The line of severe thunderstorms that pushed south through the area early Wednesday evening produced sustained high winds that brought down numerous trees and some power lines, according to officials.
“We had a long-lasting bow echo that pushed south through the state made up of thunderstorms that produced high winds and heavy rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Sean Clarke said. “It was kind of a borderline derecho. For a true derecho, you need to have several gusts over 75 mph along the length of the storms and we didn’t quite have that.”
Clarke said that what the state did have were widespread sustained wind reports in the 40 mph to 60 mph range.
The Grider Field NWS reporting station recorded a peak wind gust of 52 mph at 6:13 p.m. Wednesday.
Clarke said the highest official wind gust because of the storms was 67 mph recorded at Newport in Jackson County at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Jefferson County Judge Dutch King said that road crews were out with chainsaws Wednesday night to clear roadways blocked by fallen trees.
“We had to clear up a lot of trees and we also helped the city out,” King said. “More trees seem to have fallen in Pine Bluff than out in the county. Fortunately, there was no real property damage and there were no injuries.”
Pine Bluff Street Department crews on the scene of a downed tree at 17th Avenue and Cherry Street said they had already responded to eight sites of fallen trees or limbs by lunch time Thursday and still had more sites to visit on their list.
Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell said that his crews responded to a couple of incidents where tree limbs fell on live power lines, causing them to spark.
“We responded to those calls and made sure that Entergy was notified,” Howell said. “We also had a lot of alarm calls once the power came back on and surges tripped some of them.”
Howell said that there were no structural fires in the city because of the storm.
Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Karen Blevins said that the high winds blew down security fencing on the Jefferson County Courthouse grounds.
“The fence outside of our office blew over,” Blevins said. “We had reports of lots of trees down as well as one report of a tree down on a vehicle.”
Entergy Arkansas reported more than 2,000 of its customers in Jefferson County without power immediately after the storm passed through Wednesday evening.