Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Little Rock, AR

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Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Little Rock AR
600 AM CST Mon Feb 27 2017

...Todays Topic for Severe Weather Awareness Week is
Severe Thunderstorms...

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas
Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed the week of
February 26th through March 4th as Severe Weather Awareness Week
in Arkansas.

A different topic will be discussed each day, and todays topic is
Severe Thunderstorms.

At any given moment around the world, approximately 1800
thunderstorms are occurring. Although thunderstorms are relatively
small, when considered on a global scale of weather, all
thunderstorms are dangerous. Lightning, flash floods, hail,
straight-line winds, and tornadoes all result from thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm is considered severe when it produces winds of at
least 58 mph, hail at least 1 inch in diameter /the size of a
quarter/, and/or a tornado.

Hail forms in storm clouds where the air is subfreezing. Updrafts
which feed storm clouds drive raindrops skyward, and liquid turns
to ice. Quite often, hailstones will fall through the cloud,
collect water, and updrafts will force them aloft. The stones
refreeze and get larger.

In 2016, one of the big days for hail was March 13th. Hail was
a little larger than baseballs just north of Jessieville /Garland
County/, and was baseball size at Mount Ida /Montgomery County/.

Large hail, on average, causes over one billion dollars in damage
/property and crops/ in the United States each year. Some injuries
due to large hail occur in this country each year, but deaths from
hail are relatively rare. Animals fare far worse than humans.

When updrafts are overcome by rain and hail in storms, air from
aloft can descend in a hurry. When these downdrafts hit the ground
and spread out in all directions, damaging straight-line wind gusts
sometimes result.

In 2016, gusts reached 90 mph just west of Mt. Pleasant /Miller
County/ on April 11th and at Salem /Fulton County/ on May 9th.
Altogether, there were almost two dozen instances of thunderstorm
gusts of at least 75 mph, mainly from March through May.

Occasionally, thunderstorms spawn tornadoes. Most of these are
produced in the spring and fall during the afternoon and evening.
There are 33 tornadoes in a typical year. There were 25 tornadoes
locally in 2016, and these resulted in no fatalities.

Two other hazards associated with thunderstorms are lightning and
flash floods. However, these are not considered severe.

Whenever thunder is heard, there is lightning nearby. Lightning is
deadly, especially in the summer when people are outdoors.

Flash floods are another thunderstorm hazard. Vehicles driven into
flooded areas result in the greatest number of flash flood deaths.

Across the country, the top three deadliest thunderstorm hazards
in the last 30 years years were flash floods, tornadoes and
lightning /in that order/.

...Some Severe Weather Safety Rules...

Know the difference between a watch and a warning. The National
Weather Service issues watches when conditions are favorable for
the development of severe weather. Warnings are reserved for cases
where severe weather is imminent or occurring.

If a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued
for your area, do not hesitate to find a place of safety. If a
safe room is not available, the next best location is the lowest
floor of a permanant structure in an interior room away from
windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you
can.

Make sure that you have a source to receive the latest
information, such as NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, commercial
radio, TV stations or cable TV. Other sources of warning
information can include telephone notification services to
which people subscribe, pagers and cell phones.

&&

Notes for the News Media...

There is a Tornado Drill scheduled in place of the weekly test
on NOAA Weather Radio at 10 am CST on March 1st. People are
encouraged to practice going to a place of safety when the
NOAA Weather Radio alarm is sounded. In the event of
threatening weather, the test will be postponed until the
next day at the same time.

For a list of all the tornadoes and other significant weather
events that occurred in 2016...

http://www.weather.gov/media/lzk/StormsOf2016.pdf

$$

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