At 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, this normally sound sleeper was awakened by wind. The noise was anything but the normal sounds made by wind; rather, it was a loud, swirling roar. Around fifteen minutes later, a tornado warning siren was blasting in Bentonville, Arkansas located in Benton County.
In neighboring Washington County in Northwest Arkansas, the small, unincorporated community of Cincinnati was not so lucky. There was no siren to alert the 100 residents that they were in the path of a tornado.
Some residents were sleeping while others were up doing their morning chores at 6:10 a.m. when, according to the National Weather Service
, the “Cincinnati Tornado” hit. Mike Murray and his father, James Richard “Dick” Murray, 78, were milking cows in the barn.
According to nwaonline
[subscription required], neighbors helped “to dig Mike Murray out. Mike's father, who had been milking alongside him in the barn, died when the walls fell.” Longtime Cincinnati residents Gerald Dean “Buck” Wilson, 88 and his wife, Mamie Wilson, 78, were also killed when the tornado struck their mobile home.
The National Weather Service gave the tornado a preliminary rating of “EF3 with maximum estimated winds of about 140 mph,” and noted that “The tornado was about 300 yards wide when it went through the town” of Cincinnati.
Later on New Year’s Eve morning, Facebook posts about the tragic event began appearing including one from Russell Tucker which read, “There are pieces of Cincinnati in my yard! Literally!!! Blue and pink foam insulation.”
Tucker was contacted by email and asked how close he lives to Cincinnati. Tucker replied, “I'm not anywhere near there. I live near the intersection of Greenhouse Road and 102 in Centerton.” Further, Tucker said, “I noticed the debris this morning. I don't know for sure that it came from Cincinnati, I just heard that the debris from there had dropped all over the Bentonville/Bella Vista area. I saw more pink and blue Styrofoam all over the place between here and the line [between Centerton and the city limits of Bentonville] around noon or so.”
The National Weather Service reported that “Debris from this tornadic supercell was reported as far away as Bentonville...30 miles to the northeast.” In Bentonville, located in Benton County, the National Weather Service indicated that “the tornado severely damaged a couple of homes, destroyed a mobile home, destroyed barns, snapped and uprooted numerous trees, and snapped power poles.”
Longtime Bentonville resident Linda Law Hundley wrote this post on her Facebook page:
Large tree in drive after this morning's wind. Tom and Jerry got that under control....also pink styrofoam insulation all over these 3 acres. It never occurred to me that they fell out of the sky from Cincinnati, Ar. I did hear things hitting the windows, and checked to see if it was hailing. It wasn't.
reports that the local United Methodist Church and the American Red Cross are providing help to the tornado victims. “If you would like to help out the Cincinnati tornado victims visit redcrossnwa.org,” the television station noted.