Last year we only saw 25 tornadoes statewide. This is what we qualify as a below average year since the normal year we expect to see 33. This time last year we had 0. This year we have 12 already.
Tornadoes can occur at any time during the day during any season during the year. The most common timeframe is spring and fall when you have a clash of cold and warm air masses. Other factors can affect the number of tornadoes that occur, that will be discussed later this week. Of the 25 that occurred last year 23 occurred in spring.
Tornadoes are rated by the amount of damage they cause from EF0 being the weakest to EF5 being the strongest. High end tornadoes are very rare across the natural state with the last one occurring on April 27th 2014, killing 16 people in Ferndale, Mayflower, and Vilonia. The most common tornadoes we see are EF0 to EF2. In fact, the strongest tornado of 2016 was an EF2 that occurred in NW Arkansas last March. During the last 17 years, from 2000 to 2016 only 3 EF3 or higher tornadoes have been recorded across the state. This is out of 669 total tornadoes spawned during this time frame. Of that number 83 percent or 554 were weak ones, EF1 and below and only accounted for 3 Fatalities.
The goal of this page and every forecaster and meteorologist is to make this number 0. The only way to do this is to raise awareness on how you can receive advanced warning time, make a sturdy shelter and most of all pay attention to what is going on around you. There are many ways to receive warnings and many ways to be notified of a tornado approaching. We won’t stop until there are no lives lost year after year from Tornadoes. They rank 2nd in fatality rate by severe weather. We want to see this number drop. Warning time has increased to nearly an hour but for some that is not enough.
Below the NWS gives us guidelines to follow when it comes to receiving warnings and taking shelter.
...Outdoor Tornado Sirens...
Many towns and counties in Arkansas have acquired outdoor
warning sirens to alert the public when tornadoes threaten. When
these sirens are kept in proper working order, they do their job
as expected and help warn the public.
While Tornado Warnings often cause the sirens to blow, the
National Weather Service does not have any control over the
In Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County, the
National Weather Service has an advisory role as to when the
sirens should be sounded, but this does not prevent these
jurisdictions from blowing their sirens if they deem it necessary.
Elsewhere in Arkansas, the decision to blow the sirens is made
by designated city or county officials.
...What You Can Do to Protect Yourself - Tornado Safety Rules...
One of the newer safety rules is to avoid taking shelter under a
highway overpass. Rotating winds surrounding a tornado can hit
you with a lot of debris, and blow you out from beneath the
Be sure you know the difference between a watch and a warning.
The National Weather Service issues a Tornado Watch when tornadoes
are possible. A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been
indicated on Doppler Weather Radar or has been sighted.
Counties and cities are mentioned in Tornado Warnings. If you are
new to the area, keep a map handy for reference.
Make sure that you have a reliable way to receive weather
information. Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radios are an excellent
way to keep up with the weather, even if your power has gone out.
If you are going to be at a large gathering, such as at a school,
stadium or place of worship, make sure that someone is keeping an
eye on the weather.
A tornado shelter, tornado cellar, or a safe room is the safest
place to be, but these are not found in most homes. The next
safest place is usually a basement, but these are not common in
Arkansas. If you do not have any of these, go to an interior room
on the lowest floor of a house or building. Put as many walls
between you and the outdoors as possible.
Many businesses, such as large stores, shopping malls, hospitals,
nursing homes, and schools have pre-arranged safety plans and
designated safe areas. If you are in one of these places, follow
the instructions given inside these buildings.
If you are in a vehicle, your best option is to move to a sturdy
Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection during
a tornado, and should be abandoned.
Keep in mind that the elderly, the very young, and people with
physical or mental challenges will often need more time to get
to safety. Make special provisions if you are a care-giver for
*All slides and some excerpts are from the NWS in Little Rock. Thursdays topic: Hail