Following the proclamation by Governor Mike Beebe, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Little Rock urges Arkansans to use this week to understand the hazards of severe weather and to review the safety rules which they can use to protect themselves when severe weather occurs.
The following special statement is from the NWS:
A particular subject will be discussed each day this week, as follows:
- Monday: severe thunderstorms
- Tuesday: methods of receiving severe weather information
- Wednesday: tornadoes
- Thursday: lightning
- Friday: flash floods
It is unlikely that 2013 will be as quiet. The current weather pattern called Enso Neutral, which means that neither El Nino nor La Nina is occurring, is favorable for strong tornadoes.
In 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005, the biggest tornado outbreaks of the year occurred in the fall. In 2012, the day with the most tornadoes was January 22nd, when 7 tornadoes occurred. This year, 5 tornadoes occurred on January 29th.
So, it is important to remember that Arkansas frequently experiences a severe weather season in the fall and tornadoes can occur well before spring begins.
Tornadoes are not the only hazard. Floods and flash floods took 2 lives in 2012.
The NWS will not conduct a tornado drill this year. There are now so many different means of relaying warning information, including cell phones, personal digital assistants and pagers, in addition to radio, television, cable TV, satellite TV and NOAA weather radio. It is impossible to notify everyone that there will be a drill. In addition, some communications systems relay a drill as though it is a real warning. Thus, some people invariably think that the drill is a real tornado warning and are upset when they find out that it is not.
For schools, nursing homes, hospitals and others who would like to conduct a drill, it is suggested that the drill take place when the NOAA weather radio alarm is sounded during the routine weekly test of the weather radio. This test is on Wednesday between 11:00 a.m. and noon.
In the event of threatening weather on Wednesday, the test is postponed until the next good weather day. The weekly test message will include an announcement stating that those wishing to do a tornado drill may want to begin it at that time.
Regardless of whether individuals or institutions conduct a formal drill, the NWS asks that at various times during Severe Weather Awareness Week, people stop and think what they would do if a tornado warning were issued at that moment.
For instance, if people are at home, they should know the safest place in that home. Likewise, if a person is driving, the person should know where the nearest safe place would be. Other places where people are during the day include at work in a place of business, in a nursing home or hospital, at school and so on, and people should be aware of the safest places in these locations as well.