Continued inclement weather conditions in Southeast Arkansas on Saturday had officials on watch for flooded roads as well as possible tornadoes.

Continued inclement weather conditions in Southeast Arkansas on Saturday had officials on watch for flooded roads as well as possible tornadoes.


As the National Weather Service was confirming Saturday that an EF1 tornado touched down in Redfield on Friday night, similar incidents were being reported in Desha County near Arkansas Highway 4 and in Chicot County near U.S. Highways 165 and 65 early Saturday evening.


"Something happened out there," McGehee Police dispatcher Cheryl Davis said. "We have reports of three tractor-trailers being overturned, and several calls of house damage and trees being down."


Davis said an Arkansas State Trooper and two Desha County deputies were sent to the area.


Chicot County Sheriff Ron Nichols said, "Highway 165 and the Junction of 65/35 were shut down due to power lines being down, and three 18-wheelers were overturned. There were also reports of structure damage."


Nichols said one truck driver was taken to the hospital in McGehee and treated for minor injuries. Nichols said he believed straight-line winds near the Bellaire Cutoff — not a tornado — were responsible for the damage.


Nichols said a number of Entergy trucks were on the scene, and he said "It looks like they have three or four hours of work ahead of them."


NWS Meteorologist David Cox said Saturday night he believed what he called "an apparent tornado" had touched down near Dermott in Chicot County. Cox said his data indicated five homes were destroyed and 15 others damaged. Cox is based at the NWS station in Jackson, Miss., which oversees two Arkansas counties, Chicot and Ashley.


In Jefferson County, NWS Warning Coordinator John Robinson of the Little Rock station said an NWS team had confirmed that an EF1 tornado hit Redfield Friday evening.


"The team member indicated a one-and-one-half-mile path, and to qualify as EF1, there must have been sustained winds of between 86-110 miles per hour," Robinson said.


Melinda Elliott, deputy coordinator for the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management, said she knew of no weather-related injures or deaths as of 7:19 p.m. Saturday.


Friday night’s tornado in Redfield traveled approximately one mile northeast, according to Elliott.


"There has been roof damage to seven homes we identified Saturday morning, and a few storage sheds damaged, but nothing major." Elliott said.


Earlier Saturday afternoon, Elliott said, "Today, the rain and the water on the roads has been our concern, and we will be watching the weather the rest of the weekend."


Flooded roads were constant and widespread throughout Saturday as rain continued to fall, Elliott said.


"We’ve had the normal trouble spots with high street water in Pine Bluff, including 27th and Olive, Commerce Road, and Hazel Street, but nothing out of the ordinary so far," she said.


The continued rains Saturday were also being monitored by officials in nearby Grant and Lincoln counties.


Angie White, a spokesperson for the Grant County Office of Emergency Management, said "We have several roads with standing water, and we are watching for flooding in low lying areas."


White said nothing extraordinary other than limbs and normal street water was reported Friday night.


In Lincoln County, Sheriff’s Deputy Raymond Edwards had been on patrol since 5 a.m. Saturday, and he said "There has been lots of rain, and a few limbs on the roads, but no roads have been closed or anything like that. I would say we’ve dodged the bullet."


Neither White nor Edwards reported any known weather-related injuries or fatalities in their respective jurisdictions.


Sheriff’s officials in Cleveland and Drew County did not have a comment or were unauthorized to speak Saturday. Bradley County officials did not return calls by press time.


Joe Goudsward, a senior NWS meteorologist in Little Rock, said Saturday afternoon that in trying to confirm a possible tornado, a team of two meteorologists typically performs a visual examination of damage patterns, and analyzes radar data at the time of the incident.


"They look at the damage patterns and interview any witnesses. If wind damage is pointed in the same direction, then likely it was a straight line or gust. If there is a more of a circular pattern, then a tornado could have been possible," Goudsward said.


As NWS tornado watches were set to expire at 8 p.m. Saturday, Goudsward said "We still have some flash flood watches out here, but I believe the worst of this is over."


In a written statement Saturday afternoon, the NWS in Little Rock reported 11 areas throughout the state with two-or-more inches of rain since 7 a.m. Pine Bluff was ranked fourth-highest, listed at 4.25 inches, and Watson Chapel was reported at 3.5 inches.


Independent observers Saturday also advised the NWS of 42 other areas, mostly northeast of Little Rock, with two or more inches of rain since 7 a.m. Sheridan was reported with 3.7 inches.