Weather Service: Tornado hit at county line last week

Friday, February 8, 2013
The Clark Dairy Farm at the Carroll-Madison county line sustained major damage in last week's tornado, confirmed this week by the National Weather Service.

CARROLL COUNTY -- The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down near the Madison-Carroll county line last week on Tuesday, though a service spokesman said he could not confirm whether the twister had made its way into Carroll County.

Earlier this week, Ed Caliancese of the National Weather Service said a tornado had touched down about 1.5 miles northwest of Rockhouse Road and dissipated about 1.5 miles north-northeast.

A group from the National Weather Service surveyed the damage last week. Caliancese said many trees had been snapped or uprooted, several barns destroyed and houses damaged, and a few cattle killed.

The tornado, accompanied by heavy rains, came through and did extensive damage to several properties during Tuesday afternoon's storms.

"We had severe thunderstorm warnings at about 10 to 4, and at that point, just as soon as they came through, Central Dispatch notified all the departments, and storm sirens were initiated," said Nick Samac, county Office of Emergency Management officer. "It rolled through and rained throughout the evening."

Capt. Jason Morris with the Eureka Springs Fire Department said they received a direct call Tuesday from residents just over the Madison County line, who are part of the Eureka Springs Rural Fire District.

"They said they had a tornado and their fuel tanks had blown over," said Morris. "They wanted to make sure the fuel wasn't leaking. They had two empty that ruptured and disintegrated and one half full, but no leaks."

The area in question borders the Madison County Wildlife Management Area. The terrain there is hilly and wooded, and those who think that tornadoes will not come over hills or through woods are mistaken, Samac added.

"There was one that came across Highway 23 North and Highway 187 several years ago and did a lot of damage," he said.

In rural Eureka Springs, two farms near the Madison County line suffered loss of barns and cattle. Jeff Gay, who owns a cow-calf operation on County Road 309, said winds took down his 30-foot by-100-foot barn at about 4:30 p.m. He had about 30 cows in the barn, he said. Two died when the barn fell, and others were injured. Some had run off into the brush but later returned.

"We're trying to get trees out of the way and get water back on," he said. "Our well got knocked out, and the roads are messed up."

Gay's home is not on that property. He said he did not have insurance on the barn and will have to rebuild it eventually. Gay owns Rockwood Construction with his father-in-law.

The Clark Dairy Farm on County Road 509 also had their barn destroyed and cattle killed, said Samac. Attempts to reach the owners were unsuccessful as of press time.

The storm system also did damage elsewhere in Carroll County, including at two Mennonite farms near Green Forest where residents claimed to have seen a twister. However, Caliancese said the damage there had been much more sporadic and not consistent with a tornado.

"We couldn't confirm that the tornado had made its way in Carroll County," he said.

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Carroll County News staff writer Kathryn Lucariello contributed to this report.

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