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Ark. Air Tower Received Storm Alert

June 2, 1999

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Air traffic controllers were warned that a severe thunderstorm was approaching Little Rock National Airport just before an airliner crashed while landing in wind, hail and rain.

The American Airlines plane arrived from the southwest late Tuesday at about the same time the storm blew in from the northwest.

The National Weather Service’s severe weather warnings are fed directly to flight controllers, meteorologist George Wilken said today.

``The tower would see our warnings and it would be their decision what to tell the pilot,″ Wilken said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will have to determine whether the storm was a factor in the deadly crash, airport spokesman Phillip Launius said today.

Wind blowing at a steady 50 mph was recorded about 2 miles from the airport, the weather service said. And just after the crash, a wind gauge at the airport recorded a gust of 87 mph, Wilken said.

Hail fell thickly heavily near the airport, residents said.

``Hail was hitting the house so hard we thought it would crack,″ said Catherine Jones, who lives about a mile from the accident site. ``We looked out the window and things were flying everywhere.″

In addition to the wind and hail, up to an inch of rain fell in just a half-hour in parts of the city.

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