The damage in Arkansas came after a severe thunderstorm produced a tornado that was tearing through the region, according to the National Weather Service. As of 9:17 p.m. local time, the storm was near Trumann, Ark., and moving northeast at 55 miles per hour, bringing with it a tornado and quarter-sized hail, the Weather Service said.
On Friday night, the Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for several counties in eastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.
“This is what we would call a tornado outbreak, where you have a storm system which produces a number of tornadoes over a large geographical area,” Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, said on Friday.
But such a large and powerful system in December is highly unusual, and something the region usually sees in May or April.
“It’s certainly not unheard-of,” he said of tornadoes this late in the year, “but to have an outbreak of this magnitude, with this many tornado reports — it’s a little unusual for this time of year.”
Temperatures in Arkansas and Kansas today were “spring weather,” Mr. Pydynowski said. Highs were in the 70s and 80s. “It was unusually warm, and there was moisture in place. And you had a strong cold front end. These are the ingredients for big storms in the spring, but not in mid-December,” he said.
Tornado warnings are in place overnight, as the storm system shifts east.
“Certainly, we’ll be dealing with more tornadoes as we move into tomorrow and the whole storm system moves forward into Ohio, eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee,” Mr. Pydynowski added.