Hurricane Laura found her way to the Natural State after landfalling on the Louisiana coast near Lake Charles on Thursday, Aug. 27.
Laura and her treacherous conditions arrived in Conway on Friday, Aug. 28. Conway recorded 3.09 inches of rain that Friday. The highest wind gust Conway recorded was 53 miles per hour. Conway also recorded multiple wind gusts during the afternoon ranging from 35-45 miles per hour.
Some lost power in the area for short periods of time, as the consistent gusty winds led to a few electrical transformers blowing. The storm brought a plethora of limb damage and a handful of trees falling in the Conway area.
“A fallen tree temporarily blocked thru traffic on Duncan Street near Conway High School,” City of Conway Spokesperson Bobby Kelly III said. “One minor was transported to the hospital after a tree fell on a house on Simms Street.”
The University of Central Arkansas did not experience any major exterior damage from the tropical storm. However, Physical Plant Director Larry Lawrence found the university sustainted some minor damages, “Minor limbs and debris on the grounds area. Nothing major. We also had several small leaks and one major leak at the basement of the Student Center,”Lawrence said.
Lawrence elaborated that the ongoing construction around campus was affected by the storm, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for them. Lawrence said, “Very small hindrance. Usually on exterior work, on rain days no work occurs. These days are built into the contract. Interior work tends to continue on regardless of weather in most cases.”
A tropical storm is not your typical weather event in Central Arkansas. Knowing that Conway could see an unprecedented storm, Communications Coordinator for the Office of the Mayor Bobby Kelly III said that the city prepared accordingly.
“We were prepared for much worse. What we experienced wasn’t too much different from what we typically experience during a spring thunderstorm.”, Kelly III said. “Our Special Operations Rescue Team was placed on duty and patrolled the city looking for issues.”
Laura made landfall as a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Laura maintained hurricane strength during her entire journey through Louisiana while heading north. Just before reaching the Louisiana and Arkansas stateline, Laura was downgraded to tropical storm status by the National Hurricane Center, but was still a powerful storm.
The National Weather Service issued tropical storm warnings within the state of Arkansas for the first time ever. However, Faulkner county was never under a tropical storm warning, as only counties in the southern and western portions of the state were under warning. The reason that the NWS issued warnings was due to the quick speed at which Laura was traveling north after landfall, leaving little time for Laura to completely weaken.
This resulted in Laura holding tropical storm strength nearly her entire time in the state of Arkansas. Laura’s low pressure center meandered her way through the dead middle of Arkansas, coinciding with Laura traveling close to Conway in her last day as a tropical storm.
The NWS confirmed eight tornadoes in Arkansas on Aug. 28 as a result of Laura. This tornado outbreak is the largest the state has ever seen in one day during the month of August. All confirmed tornadoes and tornado warning were east and northeast of Faulkner County.