Be Prepared for Fall Severe Weather Season


Today is Fall Severe Weather Awareness Day in Arkansas.

Predicting severe weather is a unique challenge because tornadoes can strike even in the fall and winter.

"Some years since 2000, we've had more tornadoes in the fall than we've had in the spring."

That's why the NWS tested a new version of a battle-proven forecasting tool today-the weather balloon.

Attached to the balloon are sensors that collect temperature, humidity, pressure and wind.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist John Robinson says these "radiosondes" help forecasters accurately identify and warn the public of severe weather.

"Even with the fastest computers, you can only model the atmosphere so much. You have to take certain quantities and say well, we'll have to consider that negligible because we can't compute anything as complicated as the atmosphere."

While these scientists work in shifts to protect life and property, it's also very important for you to know the difference between a watch and a warning.

"A watch is usually issued for a period of 4 to maybe 8 hours and it means conditions are becoming favorable. When a warning is issued, we believe that severe weather has a very, very high chance of occurring in the next very short period of time. Typically 15 minutes to an hour."

Robinson encourages everyone to keep up with the weather when usually warm and humid conditions invade the area.

Know where you are and make sure that you have more than one way of receiving a warning.

"Look at a map, especially if you're new to Arkansas or new to a particular area. That's important because that's what the warnings are going to say. These towns, these counties."