So after a horrible day, we set out at 9AM to go into eastern AR. Crap...a tornado watch is already in effect. 9 in the morning. How can we deal with this. So difficult to deal with ongoing, we dont need something that is already severe.
Well at least it was just west of Little Rock. Although we were 4 hours short of Little Rock...if we didnt have bad traffic.
Kent and Jim did a great job of driving...quickly...and before we knew it we were in Little Rock. We had a superfast gas stop and lunch in the van (10 minutes) and were on the road again. We had to get to eastern AR to get our of the hills. Nice tornado-warned storms were just to our east. Unfortunately they were moving at 45 mph to the north east. How do you chase those?
Well we got through the line and decided to intercept a storm to our southwest. It was flat, but there were so many trees. We could barely see anything at all. How frustrating.
Now there were many showers and storms to its southeast. But as the storm continued, clearer conditions ensued. So we stayed with it. I must say that the storm never looked like it had really tight rotation. At least not on radar.
I told my partner Mike and said "How 'bout a nice straw....anything small."
As we saw the storm, we said "That is where the tornado should be" 20 seconds later, we saw the tornado. It was distant and low contrast as we moved in closer. I called 911 and reported the storm southwest of Earle, AR. We continued traveling northward and were noting power flashes. The tornado had a large cone appearance. It looked violent. I will be interested to see what the survey says. We will see it tomorrow as we plan on looking at the damage.
The storm headed right toward Earle. Power flashes and debris was lofted. The tornado looked not unlike the May 3, Moore OK tornado. As it entered town, we heard a very loud roar. Loudest one I ever heard. We think the tornado hit just north of the main section of town,
We were afraid to go into Earle as there was reduced video possibilities. Tons of wall cloud rotation continued.Once the tornado cleared the road we were on we loaded the van and continued. We had to cut through town and saw some apparent RFD damage. We headed on a road that continued to the north and east and ran into two police whose car had apparently flipped over. They were badly shaken but fine. A handicapped man had his home destroyed and we are not sure of his condition. We continued following the storm and saw it for much longer time. It finally roped out and lifted.
As we were watching the storm, we got out of the van to photograph. Laura Heiden received a severe shock from an induced charge from a very nearby (about 100 yards) lightning strike. She was shaken but fine. Other students said they could smell a burning.
Very scary for sure.
The tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes. No reason to believe it was more than one tornado. We watched it the whole time.
Wow. Great day. Headed into TN and got in the hook of a tornado warned storm. We punched it though....too hard. It died as we got there. Ended up having great steaks at Abes in Dyersburg, TN.
Overall...this day saved our chase!