COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The violent tornado that ripped through the south side of Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday evening around 5 p.m. local time, in the northeastern part of the state, has been rated EF3 (140 mph winds) by the Memphis, Tennessee, National Weather Service survey team. Twenty-three persons were injured, and two were hospitalized. A second weaker tornado touched down northeast of Jonesboro.
Video of the tornado developing north of I-555 approaching Jonesboro revealed a widening funnel dand significant debris swirling around the storm, as it moved northeast across the city of 75,000.
The storm traveled 12.55 miles and had a damage path 600 yards wide. Significant damage occurred at the Mall at Turtle Creek, which was fortunately closed due to the coronavirus. The Red Cross estimated that at least 200 homes were damaged in the fast-moving storm.
Rows of homes had roofs peeled off, and a number of cars were lifted off the ground and left in a twisted pile of metal. Some buildings were flattened by the force of the wind. The storm also damaged a municipal airport and derailed a train.
The National Weather Service noted that debris was lofted more than 20,000 feet, based on dual polarization radar that sends horizontal and vertical pulses through targets during volume scans to determine the size and nature of airborne particles.
Twenty tornadoes were confirmed in a wide area from Wisconsin and Illinois through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas on Mar. 28-29 along a sweeping warm front, and ahead of a trailing cold front.