3 dead after tornado hits small town in Arkansas

Storm, fueled by an unusually warm winter air, slices through northwestern parts of US state early New Year's Eve injuring several.

arkansas tornado 224.88  (photo credit: AP)
arkansas tornado 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A tornado fueled by an unusually warm winter air sliced through parts of northwestern Arkansas early on New Year's Eve, killing three people, injuring several others and knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses.
The dead were killed at Cincinnati, a hamlet of about 100 about three miles (five kilometers) from the Oklahoma border.
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Washington County sheriff's dispatcher Josh Howerton said the storm touched down near the center of the community. He said "lots of injuries" were reported, and officials in nearby Benton County said the storm injured two people and damaged five homes there.
Several flights to and from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at Highfill, in Benton County, were delayed or canceled Friday morning as officials worked to clear storm debris littering the runway.
The region has been bracing for severe weather for much of the week. Gulf moisture riding southerly winds pushed temperatures into the upper 60s and 70s (around 20 Celsius) on Thursday — ahead of a cold front expected to drop temperatures into the teens by Saturday morning.
"Anytime you have a significant change in air mass there is going to be unsettled weather marking the two different air masses," said Joe Sellers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.