Cleanup, Power Restoration Continue As More Severe Weather Threatens

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Crews continue to clean up debris as power companies work to restore electricity Monday to areas hit hardest by Saturday's storms.

The National Weather Service confirmed 5 tornadoes touched down in the River Valley, uprooting trees, damaging buildings and knocking out power to thousands of customers.

As of 6:30 a.m. Monday (May 20). OG&E was reporting 1,258 people still without power: 395 in Barling, 629 in Fort Smith, 102 in Mulberry, 59 in Ozark and 73 in Poteau. It also showed 26 more without power in west Altus.

Fort Smith schools were closed Monday because two schools, Southside High School and Ramsey Jr. High, had no power as of Sunday afternoon. School officials also cited road hazards, such as debris in the roadways and non-functioning stoplights, as a reason to close schools. There was no word yet if classes would resume Tuesday.

Saturday's storms dropped EF-1 tornadoes in Fort Smith, Barling, Greenwood, Charleston and Mulberry, the National Weather Service confirmed. Mercy Clinic on Phoenix Avenue was one of the many buildings that reported damage — it lost part of its roof. The Sykes Call Center had the roof ripped off one of its buildings, as well.

Power outages knocked out stoplights, and debris was scattered in roadways, causing traffic hazards through the city and region. Crews were out all day Sunday cleaning up roads and working to get traffic signals back online.

By 6:30 a.m., Fort Smith reported that Jenny Lind between Knoxville and Louisville remained closed as workers continued to clean up and restore stoplights. Drivers were reminded that blinking red stoplights mean to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

More severe weather was in store for the area on Monday into Tuesday. Storms are expected to roll into the area Monday evening, bringing another possibility of damaging winds, hail and isolated tornadoes, according to 5NEWS Meteorologist Joe Pennington. The enhanced risk for severe weather was expanded east about 8:30 a.m. Monday by the National Weather Service. The risk now includes more of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

A second round will move in Tuesday, with the possibility of more isolated tornadoes, Pennington said.

Stay with 5NEWS for the latest severe weather updates, or download the 5NEWS Weather app.

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