Wednesday evening storms rumble through area

The early evening hours of Wednesday saw the arrival of intense lightning, high winds and torrential rain throughout the Pine Bluff area as a line of severe thunderstorms moved through the community.

The storms that rolled through between 7 and 8 p.m. made their presence felt.

As of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Entergy Arkansas reported approximately 750 customers without power stretching from White Hall through Pine Bluff and including Altheimer.

The Entergy website estimated that the power would be restored to most customers by 11 p.m.

Karen Quarles, Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management coordinator, reported only one instance of damage.

“A tree was reported down on Dyson Road in the Watson Chapel area and the county road department was going out to remove it,” Quarles said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Lesko explained the atmospheric setup for the day’s severe weather.

“We had a cold front approaching the state from the west at the same time as a strong upper level system moved out of the Rockies and across the Great Plains,” Lesko said. “It really intensified once it got across the Plains. The front started gaining speed as it approached the Pine Bluff area.”

Lesko said the storms that came through Pine Bluff had formed into a squall line.

“By the time the storms reached eastern Arkansas the front had overtaken the discrete cells that were out ahead of it,” Lesko said.

Lesko said that one tornado had been confirmed by the NWS in the town of Scotland in Van Buren County that moved north into the Clinton area.

“A tornado emergency was declared once the tornado had been confirmed on the ground,” Lesko said. “The tornado that hit the Clinton area showed an impressive rotational signature on radar. Damage has been confirmed in Clinton and Botkinburg in Van Buren County.”

Lesko said that the weather behind the front will be sunny but chilly for the next several days.

“The Pine Bluff area will have lows in the 40s for the next several nights but temperatures will warm into the 70s by Sunday,” Lesko said.

Meanwhile, the State Police were investigating a caller’s report of a possible tornado which caused downed trees and other possible damage on Highway 54 Wednesday night.