Violent tornado in central Arkansas this evening.
Information is still coming in, but it would appear that a long-tracked, violent tornado has occurred this evening in central Arkansas. The most violent velocities were consistent from scan to scan beginning near Maumelle, AR and continuing northeast until the storm was near Mount Vernon. The town of Vilonia, pop ~ 2,000, appears to sustained very heavy damage, possibly even a direct hit on the western side of the city limits. The image at left shows both velocity (left) and reflectivity as the tornado was just southwest of Vilonia, with a "debris ball" clearly visible as the circular center of the hook (click here for more information on the debris ball phenomenon). We will provide updates as more information becomes available; hopefully the tornado was over open country during the most intense periods of its life cycle, but unfortunately that seems unlikely at this point... Tornado watches remain in effect for areas of northeast TX all the way to southern Illinois into the overnight, and this severe weather outbreak will continue into tomorrow and Wednesday. Combined with the extreme flooding mentioned in the last update, the combined time period of today through Wednesday holds the potential to go down as an historic weather event in the U.S. Again, residents in the risk areas are strongly urged to remain up to date on local weather information, monitor local media for watches and warnings, and by all means take shelter if a warning is issued.