Weekend storms damage Northeast Arkansas crop land

by George Jared ([email protected]) 339 views 

Powerful storms swept through Northeast Arkansas Saturday night (June 2) destroying crop land in several counties and causing extensive damage to the Delta Regional Airport in Colt.

At 11:21 p.m. that night a “bow echo event,” in which the leading edge of a storm essentially outruns the rest of the storm, indicating high, straight-line winds, formed near Colt, according to the National Weather Service.

The NWS reported the brief storm carved a path two miles wide, with peak winds recorded at 100 miles per hour. Cody Griffin, St. Francis County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said area damage included downed power poles and electrical lines, damaged or missing roofs from businesses and homes, and the near-complete destruction of the Delta Regional Airport , which suffered damage to hangars and planes.

“It got pretty rough here,” Griffin said.

NWS reported the storm caused a home to collapse with people inside, a damaged Waffle House restaurant and two overturned semi-trailers near Forrest City. There were no reports of injuries by the NWS. Most of the agricultural damage he saw was limited to blown rice levies and downed corn, which may be able to stand up again, Griffin said.

Neighboring counties suffered some damage as well, though to a lesser degree. Rick Wimberley, Cross County staff chair for the Division of Agriculture, said his county had its share of downed power poles and blown levies as well.

“We were needing the rain,” Wimberley said. “We didn’t need the wind to come with it. It’ll take a while for the rice fields to dry and firm up, so they can get equipment back in the fields to patch up. We had a lot of corn that was blown over. Let’s give it a few more days, and I think the majority of it will stand back up.”

Poinsett County experienced similar damage near Wynn, about seven miles north of Colt, with downed corn and other crop damage. Images of crushed and deformed grain silos between Fisher and Hickory Ridge in Cross County were posted on social media.

Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said he had received reports of damaged fields throughout counties in the northeastern part of the state, but that it will be about five to seven days before the fields can realistically be assessed. Ross said about 800 acres of cotton in the area had been destroyed during the storm.