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July 23, 1997

Tornado-Associated Fatalities—Arkansas, 1997

JAMA. 1997;278(4):279-280. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550040033017

ON MARCH 1, 1997, approximately nine tornadoes originating from two separate thunderstorms swept across Arkansas, from Hempstead County in the southwest to Clay County in the northeast (approximately 260 miles).

The tornadoes caused 26 deaths and an estimated $115 million in property damage, reflecting damage to residences, nonresidential buildings, bridges, and roads and agriculture and timber losses. The strongest tornadoes touched down southwest of Little Rock in Clark, Saline, and Pulaski counties; the estimated widths of the tornado paths ranged from 1/2 to 1 mile, and wind speeds were >200 miles per hour (National Weather Service [NWS], unpublished data, 1997). This report summarizes circumstances of the tornado-associated fatalities from information collected by the American Red Cross (ARC); 14 of the 26 fatalities occurred among persons who were in mobile homes.

ARC collected data about fatalities associated with the tornadoes by contacting area hospitals