SPRINGDALE, Ark. Severe storms and a possible tornado damaged buildings and crashed power lines in northwestern Arkansas early Wednesday, as tornadoes and hurricane-force winds were forecast across much of the Deep South, a week after severe storms hit the New Orleans area.
At least seven people were injured by Wednesday morning’s storms in Springdale, about 145 miles northwest of Little Rock, and set off tornado watches and warnings, according to St. Rogers’ NBC affiliate KNWA. Two are seriously injured, the news channel reports.
Damage was extensive in Springdale, including to an elementary school gymnasium and a warehouse, CBS affiliate KFSM of Fort Smith. The Springdale School District, the largest in Arkansas, canceled all classes on Wednesday due to the storms.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said all of Mississippi and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee were at the highest risk of severe weather on Wednesday. More than 8 million people live in the area of greatest risk, including the cities of Memphis, Tennessee; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Montgomery, Alabama.
The worst weather was expected Wednesday afternoon — unlike last week’s New Orleans tornado, which struck overnight and killed one man.
A tornado watch was issued for most of Arkansas, northern Louisiana, southern Missouri, southeastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas until Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters said tornadoes were likely, along with isolated gusts of 80 mph or higher.