1929-04-10 Sneed, AR

Mar 3, 2012
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On April 10, 1929, a small but very intense tornado outbreak occurred across northeastern Arkansas. It began with a large F4 tornado which struck Guion, destroying all but four of the town's 150 buildings. A concrete block bank was demolished and its vault was blown open. A number of homes were completely swept away and debris was transported more than 50 miles away. Seven people were killed.

The mini-outbreak continued with an F2 tornado which caused damage in Cleburne and Independence Counties before dissipating near the White River. At around the same time, a much larger tornado touched down near Batesville. Growing to half a mile in size as it crossed into Jackson County in the Black River bottoms, the tornado tore through the little outpost of Possum Trot before obliterating the small town of Sneed. A total of 23 people were killed (a relatively low toll because many people fortunately saw it coming and sought shelter in "storm caves").

The damage was extraordinarily intense. Whole sections of forest were "mowed down" and stripped of bark. Homes were completely swept away such that "one could hardly tell that a home had once stood." Victims were, in some cases, thrown more than half a mile from their homes. So intense was the damage that the Possum Trot - Sneed tornado still stands as the only officially recognized F5 to occur in the state of Arkansas (I'd make a case for a couple others, including Mayflower - Vilonia last year, but that's a whole different can of worms).

Some photos from this event:

What's left of a home from Sneed on top, Possum Trot on bottom.



A farmhouse destroyed near Swifton.



A school and church near Bono.



A car thrown more than 300 yards near Swifton.



The site of the Pleasant Valley schoolhouse, with debarked/denuded trees all around.



A view of Guion taken several days afterward once Red Cross tents and such had been set up.



The Pleasant Valley schoolhouse, with children searching for their books and belongings.



The Riley home in Sneed.



What little was left of a homestead just outside of Sneed.

 

CA Falkner

Enthusiast
Mar 23, 2021
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Prairie Grove, Arkansas
Wow incredible, living in Arkansas myself I have heard of this event but only the written account. These pictures are insane, it would be horrible having an f5 strength tornado bearing down on you and not really knowing what you’re in for. Thanks for the tread.

I do agree with you on the 2014 Vilonia/Mayflower event, I live in the prairie grove area of Northwest Arkansas and watched this event from start to finish. It was some incredible damage.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Alma, AR
I’ve heard of this event many times before from when my Great Grandma was still alive. Many tornadoes in Arkansas were well known prior to 1950. Several of them were in wooded areas, and areas of mountainous terrain. One such tornado happened around the 1930’s-40’s in Graphic, AR where my family lives and it was so intense that it moved the family home 8-10” off the foundation. My Great great great grandpa built the house, and was a stone mason, and also made his own concrete from the sand that they got out of the Arkansas River. It was so intense that the iron bars he used to anchor the home to the ground (which were model A or T axles were completely bent nearly in half and out of the stone masonry. They took shelter in the cellar which is a above ground 2 foot thick walled structure made of stone, and cement, and the ceiling is also that thick. It had a wooden roof on top for a loft that was ripped plum off. Great grandma told me the vents that are built into the cellar which are about 4” wide by 8” tall on the east side of the cellar that the tornado was so intense it was sucking canned goods towards the vents. They’ve got pictures of it I need to get copies of so I can share them. I do historical research on tornadoes in Arkansas. When I got my meteorology degree my favorite thing was visiting the old places that were hit and see what the terrain looked like it occurred in. They live in a valley with mountains on all sides and about 100 acres of it is open country and about where the tornado touched down.