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Sunday storms drop seven confirmed tornados across Quill coverage area


The National Weather Service offices in Springfield and Little Rock, Ark., have confirmed seven tornadoes touched down Sunday in Howell and surrounding counties, including Baxter County, Ark. Of those, two registered damage associated with EF3-strength wind speeds of between 136-165 mph, NWS survey team reports show.

The tornados were the product of two separate storm systems, the first of which impacted the area early Sunday morning.

An EF1 tornado with wind speeds of 100 mph touched down at 3:44 a.m. about 6 miles northwest of Mansfield in Wright County, in a hilly wooded area near F Highway, reports show. It took down numerous trees across parts of Davies and Red Oak roads before dissipating near V Highway, said officials. At 4:19 a.m., the survey team concluded, an EF0 tornado touched down near Caney Mountain Conservation Area, about 10 miles north Gainesville. Peak winds reportedly reached about 80 mph and the tornado traveled about 4 miles northeast, uprooting several trees and snapping large limbs along its path.

About five minutes later, across the state line in Baxter County, a survey team found preliminary evidence of an EF3 tornado at Briarcliff, about 8 miles southeast of Mtn. Home. The team is still assessing the damage to determine the length and width of the storm’s path, the report noted. Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery reported one person died of injuries suffered in the storm, and several injuries were reported.

Another storm system rolled in early Sunday evening, spawning four twisters, two of which touched down in Shannon County, NWS reports show. A spotter reported a possible tornado at 5:08 p.m. near Manes in Wright County, and a survey team confirmed a tornado touched down at 5:11 p.m. about 10 miles southeast in Dawson, 10 miles north of Mtn. Grove. The EF1 tornado bore wind speeds peaking around 100 mph and traveled 13 miles, lifting 7 miles southwest of Houston, the report shows. Video footage posted on social media by staff at Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, five miles west of Houston, appears to show the tornado in action. At its widest, the tornado had a 400-yard spread, surveyors reported, and it caused extensive tree damage, uprooting or snapping numerous trees. Five outbuildings were reportedly heavily damaged or destroyed, and one home sustained roof damage.

Thirty minutes later, surveyors determined, a low-end EF3 tornado with wind speeds reaching up to 140 mph started 7 miles northwest of Mtn. View, traveled east for just over 6 miles and lifted a mile northeast of the city. One person was injured, three homes were reportedly several damaged and a manufactured home was completely destroyed, surveyors said; multiple outbuildings were also heavily damaged or destroyed, and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.

At 6:12 p.m., an EF2 tornado touched down 2 miles northeast of Birch Tree. With winds topping out at 125 mph, it traveled about 2.5 miles southeast and lifted about 4 miles east of Birch Tree. Its path crossed U.S. 60 just east of Shannon County Road 421, surveyors reported. A home lost its roof to the tornado, and a saw mill was reportedly destroyed; numerous trees were uprooted or snapped. At about 6:17 p.m., NWS officials received a video showing the twister on the ground with debris in the area, about 3 miles east of Birch Tree.

The final tornado to touch down in the area did so at about 6:22 p.m. about 4 miles southwest of Winona in Shannon County. Surveyors concluded a brief EF0 tornado with peak winds of 80 mph touched down between Birch Tree and Winona, traveled east less than a mile just to the north of U.S. 60, and uprooted or snapped several trees.


Mtn. View Mayor Charry McCann announced the opening of a storm shelter at the Mtn. View Christian Church on South Highway 17 that evening, and Liberty High School was opened for families in need of a safe place to shelter, shower or eat.

Mtn. View-Birch Tree School District announced shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday that none of its buildings were damaged.

Police, fire and medical personnel responded promptly and mutual aid was requested, said McCAnn in a press release issued Monday. Multiple county, city and rural responders quickly converged on the impacted area, she added. Damage assessment is still ongoing by officials, she noted, and within city limits, the majority of roads had been cleared and essential utilities had been restored.

Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative worked diligently to restore electrical service to those residing outside of city limits, she noted.

"The Mountain View Emergency Management Team is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our community,” said McCann. “Our first responders acted swiftly and efficiently to rescue and assist those affected by this event. We will continue to support our residents as we work to recover and rebuild.”

HOEC Membership Specialist Stephanie Beltz-Price said the co-op’s crews responded to outages beginning early Sunday morning in the eastern part of its service area, namely in Birch Tree and Winona and down through Couch and Myrtle in Oregon County. At 8:30 a.m., about 1,156 members were with out power, and responding crews contended with storm damage and concerns regarding possible flooding while conducting assessments and repairs.

By 5:30 p.m., she said, crews reduced outages to less than 500, but the tornadoes struck minutes later, leaving roughly 1,000 more members without power — at the peak of outages, 1,476 members were affected.

“HOEC personnel were out throughout the night Sunday night/Monday morning, assessing the new damage caused by these tornadoes,” Beltz-Price said. “Many, many poles were broken or even missing.” Contract crews were called in to assist, as well as crews from other Missouri cooperatives, she noted. By 10:30 Tuesday morning, only 38 members remained without power.

Montgomery also said his agency in Baxter County were supported by others, with emergency responders from multiple agencies called out to respond and help those in need after Sunday morning’s tornado, which had not yet been confirmed at the time of his press release.

A mobile home on Jones Lane off of Highway 5 near Salesville in Baxter County was reported destroyed and the woman who lived there, 73-year-old Patricia Anne Sontag, could not be found, Montgomery said. At about 8 a.m., he reported, she was found dead about 300 yards north of where her home had stood. Seventeen people in various areas of the county were injured as well, including six children, and were treated by Baxter Health medical personnel in Mtn. Home, he said; one child was transferred to Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Work crews began clearing roads of fallen utility lines and downed trees, he said.

The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office gave thanks to responders from the Arkansas State Police; Gassville Police Department; Cotter Police Department; Bull Shoals Police Department; Baxter County Road and Bridge Department; Arkansas Department of Transportation; Baxter County Coroner's Office; all of the many volunteer fire departments in Baxter County and some from outside the county; the Izard County Sheriff's Office for temporarily handling calls south of Norfork; Office of Emergency Management personnel from Baxter, Izard and Fulton Counties; and many civilian volunteers who offered their services. 

Baxter Health officials weighed in with their own words of appreciation, as well: “I would like to personally thank everyone who was involved in the Code Yellow Disaster event on Sunday morning at Baxter Health. So many people went above and beyond to help in this response,” said Baxter CEO/President Ron Peterson. “Our team members came even when there was damage to their own property. They came even when roads were blocked, because they found alternative routes, and they came even when they were two hours away because they received the Code Yellow text and wanted to help and respond.”

Peterson noted staff and the facility were prepared for a much larger event, but were “blessed” to be able to help those in immediate need of medical care.

“Whether it was our ambulance crews who were first on the scene; our physicians, nurses or ancillary staff at the hospital; or our staff checking on Home Health and Hospice patients for oxygen and other needs, everyone played a crucial role,” he continued. “Additionally, others like Air Evac assisted us in setting up a triage area at the hospital and local first responders, police and fire departments helped cut trees and remove debris so our EMS vehicles could get to patients. The list of individuals who assisted is very long, and we should all be very proud of the response and commitment to the community that was demonstrated this weekend.”

“Thank you all so much for truly caring and helping in a time of true need,” Peterson concluded. “We are so blessed to have such outstanding people willing to pull together and committed to taking care of people's needs. Again, thank you for your compassionate heart and willingness to help.”