LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On November 25, 1926, one of the most significant tornado outbreaks to hit the state (in terms of fatalities and time of year) occurred. In Arkansas, 58 people were killed with over 200 others injured as more than 10 tornadoes touched down.
Based on data acquired from the National Weather Service, a low pressure system was developing in the far northern Plains, coming off the Rocky Mountains. A cold front associated with this system stretched deep south to Mexico. To the east was a warm front extending to the mid-west where warm and moist air was plentiful.
On the morning of November 25, 1926, temperatures in Arkansas were trending 20-25 degrees higher than normal, in the 50’s and 60’s rather than 30’s and 40’s. By afternoon, temperatures had risen to the 70’s in many locations. Dewpoints were also elevated, indicating ample moisture.
As the cold front approached, all the warm and moist air was forced to rise. Southerly winds were met by west/northwesterly winds, which created a dangerous, tornado-inducing environment.
The first tornado is said to have touched down in Yell County around 4 p.m., just west of Belleville. The last tornado occurred in Lincoln County near Gould at 10 p.m.
Based on damage reports from that day, the National Weather Service estimates 14 tornadoes touched down in the state of Arkansas.
One of the most damaging tornadoes from this day occurred in Wooster, AR. Around 5:15 p.m., a tornado touched down in Wooster, moved through Enders and eventually lifted after passing through Heber Springs around 6 p.m. In Enders, one person was killed while every building in the area was destroyed. In Heber Springs, a three-block-wide path of damage was cut, and 12 people died. 90 people were injured in Heber springs.
Another tornado struck a church in Moscow (Jefferson County) where a wedding ceremony had just concluded. 10 people were killed, and 40 people were injured.
In Jackson County, between Jacksonport and Newport, a tornado destroyed three homes and a school. Two family members were killed when their house was transported 40 feet, flipped and collapsed.
In total, 58 Arkansans died from this tornado outbreak, with an additional 200 plus people sustaining injuries.
This is one of the most significant tornado outbreaks to hit the state of Arkansas, based solely on the number of fatalities, injuries and time of year that it occurred.
It may have been the biggest outbreak to occur in Arkansas during the month of November prior to the November 27, 2005 outbreak that resulted in the formation of 24 tornadoes around the I-40 corridor in west/northwestern Arkansas.