By JESSICA BAUER and
RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITERS
AWhen strong winds rushed into Faulkner County Friday, they came with the force of a hurricane, according to John Lewis of the National Weather Service.
Lewis, senior forecaster, said wind speeds reached an average of 60 to 80 miles per hour -- speeds commonly witnessed during hurricanes.
"There was a rather large line of storms that developed back in Kansas, moved through Oklahoma, arrived in northwest Arkansas early this afternoon and swept across the remainder of the state," Lewis said Friday. "It's hard to say if there were actual tornadoes yet, but there were several areas of rotation and we issued a few tornado warnings."
Although Lewis said the majority of the reports made Friday will be considered wind damage, there may be actual tornado damage once the National Weather Service takes a closer look.
No specific parts of Faulkner County were missed by the severe storm, but Lewis said areas between Conway and Vilonia were hit the hardest.
"Trees and power lines down seems to be a common report from that area this afternoon and some structural damage here and there, including lost roofs and barns," Lewis said.
Lewis explained the intensity of the winds in relation to the storm's pattern.
"This is what we call a bow echo, which is a line of storms that looks like a backward 'c' and what you see on the radar is wind pushing that line of storms making the line take that shape," Lewis said.
Lewis added there is potential for more severe weather, possibly later today and into Sunday. However, although he said another round may be on its way, he doubts it will come close to Friday's "extreme event."
Jim West, manager of Conway Corporation's electric department, said Conway experienced many outages Friday afternoon mainly concentrated in the southwest part of town along south Salem Road, Nutter Chapel Road and Hilton Estates.
"Evidently there was a tornado," he said, adding the sighting was not verified.
"There is quite a bit of damage. We've got several broken poles on south Salem, some on Nutter Chapel. We've had outages pretty much all over town, and it was due to the wind -- the high winds. There are trees down all over town.
"We've got probably 50 percent of it back on already," he said about 5 p.m.
He estimated workers would have all Conway Corp. customers' power restored by midnight Friday.
In addition to the snapped trees and scattered limbs that gave witness to the power of the storm, at least one local business sustained damage.
Jay Caldwell of Caldwell Toyota said the high winds damaged the ceiling of the dealership's drive-through service reception.
"Evidently the wind came from the west blowing super hard," he said. "The structure of the roof came down. I knew it was blowing tiles out. I couldn't believe ... it literally destroyed the grid."
A couple of customer's vehicles were in the drive-through and sustained slight damage, he said.
Caldwell said the wind also blew open doors of offices that face the drive-through and sucked ceiling tiles out of one of those rooms.
"We may have to do something different," he said. "We didn't put doors on (the drive-through) on purpose. It seemed more open and friendly."
Fortunately, no one was hurt, he said. A conscientious employee who was trying to move a customer's vehicle was struck by a light piece of aluminum, but the employee was not injured, Caldwell said.
"Thankfully, there was no other damage. Most importantly, no one was hurt. We can fix cars and roofs," Caldwell said.