20 Apr If Only People Had More Warning – Paron, Arkansas
On April 27, 2014 our target area was central Arkansas. There was a 15% Hatched Tornado threat and by the 3 PM SPC update it had upgraded to a 30% Hatched. We knew it was going to be a dangerous day. We stopped for lunch in Texarkana and started visiting with the residents in the area. We were surprised to find out that most of the people we were speaking with had no idea of the Tornado threat for the day.
As the storms started firing we positioned ourselves on a storm moving toward the Hot Springs area. As it reached Hot Springs we observed a fast moving funnel cloud that was behind a large hill so we could not confirm if it was on the ground. We reported it immediately to NWS and captured it on video, however no tornado warning was issued. We followed the storm from behind knowing it had already produced a funnel. As we headed East out of Paron, AR. on 12th st. which eventually turned into Kanis Rd. we came upon heavy tree damage. And then we came across the first residents standing next to the road waiting for assistance. The first thing they said was, “would have been nice if we would have had a warning!” Wow I thought, no warning. We had called the NWS 25 minutes earlier and no tornado warning was issued. The damage to the houses in the area was heavy. We proceeded down the road to clear more trees. When we came to the last area that had trees across the road we found all of the emergency vehicles unable to proceed into the damage area we had been searching. We used our chainsaws to clear the road so the emergency vehicles could access the damage area to assist.
No one should ever die from a Tornado!
The tornado would stay on the ground for 41 miles and kill 16 people along with injuring 193. It was the deadliest tornado in Arkansas since 1968. The tornado eventually was rated an EF-4.
We had done our job! Alerted the NWS of ground truth information, first on scene to assist in search and rescue, and clear roads for emergency vehicles. But it seemed like it wasn’t enough! People still died and lots were injured. I couldn’t sleep that night wondering what we could have done differently. And then I realized, people had to take responsibility for their own safety. People could not rely on anyone else to keep them safe from severe weather.
Thus, the Storm Warrior Battle Plans.