A severe weather system dropping temperatures more than twenty degrees and causing winter weather as spring begins, enters Arkansas today. While winter weather isn’t expected here, there is concern for severe storms with heavy rains increasing flood potential, with a slight risk of tornadoes still on tap.
The National Weather Service has already placed much of the state under a wind advisory through Wednesday night, with gusts in areas as high as 40 miles per hour. “Residents would be wise to plan for the possibility of power outages,” stated American Red Cross in Arkansas Disaster Director, Roger Elliot. “Between high winds, lightning with severe storms, it’s always better to be prepared in advance.” With numerous households only using cell phones, residents are advised to keep phones fully powered before storms move into your area. “A good investment is a solar charger, that has also been charged before it’s needed,” stated Elliot. A phone car charger is also suggested.
National Weather Service Little Rock Warning Coordination Meteorologist John Robinson states chances for severe weather are in a line “east of Yellville to Ashdown, with the greatest chances probably east of a line from Hardy to Little Rock to Camden.”
Flood warnings and advisories are already posted for some northeastern and southern counties from previous rainfall. “With forecasts of rain as much as five inches across eastern Arkansas and three inches across central counties, we ask everyone to stay aware of all watches and warnings that may be issued,” stated Elliot. “We know from events such as the flash flood emergency several southern counties experienced this past fall as Tropical Storm Isaac moved over Arkansas, a lot of rain in a short period can cause major problems.” Elliot recommends being aware of the level of any body of water near your home or workplace that should be of concern. “The small creek, with the right amount of water can overflow into your street or home with little notice,” stated Elliot. Keep your car filled at least a half tank of gas in case you need to evacuate a flooded area or detour. And remember to never drive into flooded streets, even those you’re familiar with.
Two great disaster tools to have--the Red Cross Tornado app and Hurricane app. “The Tornado app can keep you informed on severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings; the Hurricane app has great tips before, during and after floods,” stated Elliot. Both apps are free and can be downloaded for your iPhone and Android app store. “Remember to put in your location, so watches and warnings can be sent to you.” Elliot added, “Don’t forget to add locations of family, friends, and college students to keep you informed to help them stay aware and safe.”
Features of the Tornado app, which also alerts you to severe thunderstorms include:
• Simple step-by-step instructions to help you know what-to-do even if the cell towers and TVs are down. Requires no mobile connectivity.
• Audible siren that automatically goes off even if app is closed when NOAA issues a TORNADO WARNING helping to reduce the chance of sleeping through an actual warning.
• Push notification sent when a WARNING expires – especially important if power goes out while you or your family is in your safe room.
• Be ready should a tornado hit by learning how to assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of power outage or evacuation.
• Reduce your household’s stress and anxiety should a tornado hit by learning to make and practice an emergency plan.
• Preloaded content means you have instant access to all safety information at any time, even without reception or an Internet connection.
• Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends and show off your tornado knowledge.
• Learn how to deal with food and water impacted by floods and power outages.
• Simply let friends/family know you’re safe with customizable “I’m Safe” notification sharable thru social media, text and email.
• Let others know where you are with the Toolkit’s strobe light, flashlight and audible alert functions.
It is most important before and during times of severe weather stay informed of changing weather conditions, to have an emergency kit with supplies at home, work or school and to make a plan to know what to do should emergency action be called for. “In addition to the critical information and tools provided with the Red Cross Tornado app, listen to your local media for specific weather information and your NOAA Weather Radio,” stated Elliot.