A powerful EF-3 tornado packing winds as high as 140 mph touched down in Jonesboro in Eastern Arkansas on Saturday, causing severe damage along a 20-mile swath, including Jonesboro Municipal Airport.
According to airport manager George Jackson, while damage assessment is continuing, approximately 75 percent of the airport, which has a 6,200-foot main runway, was impacted. He told AIN that while the terminal of the Arkansas Air Center, the lone FBO on the field, largely survived the storm intact, the airport’s commercial terminal and ARFF station were destroyed along with half of the hangars. AIN's attempts to reach the FBO directly were unsuccessful.
Photos of the scene show at least one collapsed hangar with what appears to be a Beechcraft King Air twin turboprop pinned underneath the debris, along with a smaller aircraft. Aerial video from a local news organization depicted aircraft strewn around the airport grass, which Jackson said were either occupants of the 20 former T-hangars that were destroyed or airplanes torn from their tie-downs.
All told, Jackson estimates between 50 and 60 general aviation aircraft were impacted, including at least four light jets and three King Airs. Some aircraft were damaged so thoroughly that they have yet to be identified, said Jackson, who added no determination has yet been made as to when the airport will reopen.