Tornado assigned preliminary EF3 rating

Courtesy of NWS

The National Weather Service of Little Rock has assigned a preliminary EF3 rating for Sunday’s deadly tornado that devastated parts of Mayflower and Vilonia.

Winds are estimated at 136 to 165 miles per hour.

Meteorologists analyzing the track of the tornado say rotation was persistent for roughly 40 miles before weakening.

Rotation was tracked in a diagonal line through Faulkner County, entering southwest of Mayflower and exiting northwest of Vilonia.

An active tornado with a debris ball was recorded from Mayflower to Vilonia before dissipating near El Paso in White County, according to radar.

Warning coordination meteorologist John Robinson says surveys of the storm track will continue Tuesday and Wednesday. Two forecasters also plan to fly the track with the Civil Air Patrol on Wednesday.

Robinson says a final rating isn't expected until late Wednesday. 

Eleven of the 15 people killed in the storm were residents of Faulkner County with addresses in Mayflower and Vilonia.

If the death toll with this storm goes higher than 15 in the state, the tornado would be the deadliest in Arkansas since 1968, according to the weather service.

A category EF4 twister in May of 1968 killed 35 in the Jonesboro area.

Vilonia was hit just three years ago by a tornado on April 25, 2011.

The tornado was tracked at just over 51 miles and categorized as an EF2. Four people were killed on the southwest side of town.

Since reliable records began in 1950, Vilonia has had five tornadoes track through present day city limits, according to the weather service.

The city limits were hit on consecutive days in December of 1982 and in March of 1961.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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