Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

TOP STORY >> Harsh weather pummels area, cancels game

No major problems were reported locally as severe thunderstorms moved through central Arkansas, but before the storms arrived they generated a number of tornadoes to the west and north, causing at least three deaths in Atkins.

The statewide storms also disrupted voting in the state’s presidential election and cut the power to Pulaski County’s office building preventing election officials from tabulating the results of the Jacksonville-Gravel Ridge annexation vote.

The storm threat caused Cabot school officials to stop and cancel the high school basketball game being played in Cabot. The girls’ game was stopped at halftime and the boys’ game never started as officials cleared the gym at Cabot High School about 7 p.m.

Dan Daugherty, a spokesman for Entergy Arkansas, said the storms blanked out power for about 43,000 of its customers, including 300 in the Jacksonville area. The Jacksonville Fire Department had one report of a power line down, but was unable to locate it. Cabot police said the city had some trees down, but no major problems.

Severe weather sirens went off twice in Gravel Ridge, sounding at 6:47 p.m. and again at 6:59. Renee Preslar, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said a tornado touched down near highways 324 and 105 in Atkins’ downtown, then stayed on the ground and passed into Conway County to the east.

At least three people were confirmed dead and Preslar said numerous injuries were reported, but communication remained difficult with those on the ground. “Because this tornado has landed and stayed on the ground and continued, we are still bringing in reports,” Preslar said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.