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Official: Storm system that hit Sulphur Rock could have been a microburst

Independence County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Glen Willis says the thunderstorm that erupted in and near Sulphur Rock yesterday could have been a microburst.   

A microburst is defined by the weather service as an intense small-scale downdraft produced by a thunderstorm or rain shower. The editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica say a microburst is a pattern of intense winds that descend from rain clouds, hit the ground, and fan out horizontally. Generally, microbursts are short-lived, usually lasting about 5 to 15 minutes and relatively compact, usually affecting an area of up to 2 miles in diameter. Microbursts are often, but not always, associated with thunderstorms or strong rains. By causing a sudden change in wind direction or speed — a condition known as wind shear – microbursts create a particular hazard for airplanes at takeoff and landing because the pilot is confronted with a rapid and unexpected shift from a headwind to a tailwind.

A microburst, or whatever it was, caused damage and much inconvenience in and around Sulphur Rock Wednesday. As of 10 a.m. today, Entergy Arkansas said 577 customers were still affected in the immediate Sulphur Rock area and east and southeast of Sulphur Rock with power outage. The company said it should have all electrical power restored to customers by 6 p.m. today.

Willis said county road department employees are working to clear roadways of trees and tree limbs. Several powerlines in the affected area were also taken down by falling trees and limbs. He said several trees were uprooted, as well.  

Sulphur Rock Elementary School was one of those affected by the power outage.  Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester called off classes today for the campus. The OEM Coordinator said one house in the Sulphur Rock area was hit by lightning, causing damage to the structure. Willis said, thankfully, no injuries from the storm have been reported in the Sulphur Rock area.

Willis said a house was also hit by lightning on Stacy Drive in Spring Valley. He said it appeared the resulting fire caused extensive damage, and the end result may turn out to be a total loss. At the time of this writing, Willis did not have the name of the homeowner. He also said he was not aware of any injuries from that fire. The Northside Fire Department responded to the call and brought the blaze under control.

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