A violent outburst of weather erupted across parts of the U.S. heartland over the weekend as two dozen tornadoes were reported across several states from Saturday into Sunday. Jonesboro, Arkansas, located in the northeastern corner of the state took the worst of it, suffering a direct hit from an EF3 tornado.
City officials and residents in Jonesboro were starting the recovery process after at least 22 injuries were caused by the twister. Officials said there were no fatalities caused by the storm.
Rounds of severe thunderstorms erupted from the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley Saturday, with the dangerous weather packing damaging winds, hail the size of softballs and destructive tornadoes like the one seen in Jonesboro.
The National Weather Service (NWS) Memphis reported on Sunday afternoon that the tornado that hit Jonesboro had an EF3 rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale that measures wind damage caused by tornados. The EF3 rating means severe damage was caused. The NWS reported max winds of 140 mph.
Tornado watches were in effect from Illinois to Mississippi, all of which lasted well into the overnight hours.
“The thunderstorm that spawned the devastating tornado in Jonesboro, Arkansas, was associated with a strong cold front that swept through the central U.S. on Saturday. Strong cold fronts are notorious for triggering severe weather, especially in the springtime when the air really starts to heat up,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said things could’ve been worse if everything wasn’t closed due to the coronavirus, including the mall.
“I hate to say it, but with the coronavirus, I think there were not as many people here in the building as it could have been much worse,” Perrin said.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Perrin said.
Any construction company that wants to help, or any persons with chainsaws, are asked to get in contact with the Office of Emergency Management.