10 Things You MUST Know For Severe Weather Season
1. WE CAN'T TELL YOU EXACTLY WHEN A STORM WILL ARRIVE AT YOUR HOUSE UNTIL THE STORM DEVELOPS.
This is the most asked question prior to a severe weather event. There will be times when we can narrow the time window to within a few hours, but it's not until the storm or storms develop on radar that we can estimate the time of arrival to within a few minutes.
2. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN CAUSE JUST AS MUCH DAMAGE AS A TORNADO OVER A LARGER AREA.
We receive more severe thunderstorms compared to tornadoes in Arkansas. There's the perception these are not as dangerous as tornadoes, but that's not the case. Severe thunderstorm winds can reach 100 mph over a large area causing more widespread damage than a tornado. Not all severe thunderstorms will do this, but it happens more often than you think. Also, large hail can cause millions of dollars in damage to homes, cars, and crops.
3. ALL TORNADOES ARE SURVIVABLE.
If you know your safe place and take action, you are very UNLIKELY to be killed. Of course, the BEST place to shelter is underground, but if that's not an option, follow these guidelines: Stay inside a WELL BUILT structure, put as many walls between you and the outside, no windows, go to the lowest level, and find something to protect your head from flying debris. We can always rebuild, but we can't replace YOU and that's the most important.
4. WE MUST STAY ON THE AIR TO TRACK THE EVOLUTION OF TORNADIC THUNDERSTORMS.
Why can't we just go on the air, give the warning, let the crawl run on the bottom of the screen, and stay with regular programming? We receive new radar scans every minute and areas of rotation can change intensity and direction quickly. Within a line of storms, embedded areas of rotation can last 1 to 2 minutes and cause extensive damage. That's why we must stay on the air and track the danger street by street and town by towns.
5. LIGHTNING AND LOUD THUNDER DO NOT MAKE A STORM SEVERE.
"Todd, we had a bad storm last night and you were not on TV". Usually the bad storm equates to very loud thunder and frequent lightning. While lightning is dangerous, it's not severe. The only criteria for severe thunderstorms are: Winds 58 mph or greater and/or hail 1'' in diameter or greater. Dime size hail, winds to 50 mph, heavy rain, and frequent lightning does not meet the threshold of a severe thunderstorm, but it's still dangerous.
6. KNOW WHAT COUNTY YOU LIVE IN AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTIES.
This is vital when watching severe weather coverage. We track these storms from county to county. Know exactly where you live on a map.
7. WE WILL INTERRUPT PROGRAMMING FOR LIFE SAVING INFORMATION.
When a tornado warning is issued within the designated Channel 7 viewing area, we will interrupt programming and stay with it. Yes, this angers some viewers, but we will always do the right thing. No email, social media posting, phone call, or threat will get us off the air. We will stay on until the threat is over. We will also interrupt programming for severe thunderstorm warnings on occasion when we are certain the risk is great enough.
8. A TORNADO WARNING DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THERE'S A TORNADO.
Tornado warnings are only issued for 2 reasons, when one is indicated by radar or one has been confirmed. A tornado warning can be issued when doppler radar indicates rotation and there's a reasonable degree of certainty one is forming. This is the advanced warning scientists have been working on for decades. Warnings are issued well in advance to give YOU and your family ample time to seek shelter. When a tornado warning is issued based on radar, there will be times nothing happens, but you MUST act as if it is happening. Yes, there is a false alarm rate, but meteorologists work constantly to reduce this. When we have confirmation one is on the ground, we'll tell you. There will be times when radar indicates debris is in the air. This is another way to confirm a tornado is occurring. Bottom line, no matter what the circumstances are, seek shelter when a tornado warning is issued.
9. WE WANT YOUR PICTURES AND VIDEO, BUT IT'S NEVER WORTH GETTING HURT.
Pictures and video in the age of social media are fantastic to communicate the danger and we love having each one of you as a part of the Channel 7 weather team. However, it's NEVER worth getting hurt. Please remember that.
10. HAVE 2 WAYS TO RECEIVE WARNINGS.
You need a primary source and a back-up source. I highly suggest the free KATV Weather app. You can set up notifications easily. Make sure it can wake you up at night! Also, you should have a NOAA weather radio.
NEVER rely on outdoor warning sirens. They are only intended to warn you if you are outside. Do NOT depend on them when inside, especially at night. You may never hear the sirens with heavy rain and thunder affecting your home.