There were no immediate reports of injuries from Wednesday morning’s storms that hit in Springdale, about 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, and prompted tornado watches and warnings.
Damage was extensive in Springdale, including to an elementary school gymnasium and a warehouse, KFSM-TV reported. The Springdale School District, which is the largest in Arkansas, canceled all classes Wednesday because of the storms.
The possible tornado struck about 4 a.m. and investigators were being sent to the Springdale area, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Joe Sellers in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He said Wednesday morning it hadn’t been confirmed as a tornado, but “we’re pretty certain that’s what occurred.”
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said all of Mississippi and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee were at the greatest risk for severe weather Wednesday. More than 8 million people live in the area at greatest risk, which includes the cities of Memphis, Tennessee; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Montgomery, Alabama.
The worst weather was expected in the afternoon Wednesday. The storms come a week after a New Orleans tornado that struck during the overnight hours and killed a man.
A tornado watch was issued for most of Arkansas, northern Louisiana, southern Missouri, southeastern Oklahoma, and northeast Texas through early Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters said tornadoes were likely, along with isolated wind gusts of 80 mph (130 kph) or higher.
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