Arkansas officials say the towns of Vilonia and Mayflower were hit hard by a tornado on Sunday, including areas that were hit by a storm in 2011.  At least 16 people died.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said Faulkner County officials had asked that troopers offer assistance at Vilonia.  DeCample said the storm was a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile wide when it passed through the community about 25 miles north of Little Rock. Power was out to much of the town.

Four people were killed when a twister hit Vilonia three years ago Friday.
That large tornado touched down west and north of Little Rock and damaged property along a 30-mile route.  The fire chief reported "mass casualties" in Vilonia, which is due north of Little Rock and due west of Conway.

The National Weather Service received multiple reports of damage from a suspected long-track tornado.  According to the weather service, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission headquarters east of Mayflower was destroyed in the storm, and several homes in the Saltillo area of Faulkner County were damaged.

The weather service says multiple homes and a fast-food restaurant were damaged in Vilonia, and many downed trees were reported.

Forecasters issued several tornado emergency warnings on Sunday night - meaning a confirmed tornado was on the ground. The emergency warnings began around 7 p.m. in Maumelle in Pulaski County and continued through the night as the storm moved northeast.

Forecasters issued tornado emergencies for Maumelle, Morgan, Saltillo and Vilonia after storm spotters confirmed a twister on the ground.  The storm formed about 10 miles west of Little Rock and crossed the Arkansas River northwest of the city.

Arkansas highway officials shut down a four-mile stretch of Interstate 40 for awhile due to debris from the suspected tornado.   The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department says traffic on eastbound and westbound Interstate 40 was blocked in Faulkner County because of storm damage in Mayflower.  It reopened by 10 p.m.

ASHTD asked drivers to avoid the area.  Images from television news showed overturned tractor-trailers and debris along the interstate.

The National Weather Service says a spotter reported seeing a tornado cross the interstate Sunday night as powerful storms hit parts of central Arkansas.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.