The severe weather season for the ArkLaTex is coming soon. Severe Weather Awareness Week begins Monday. Meteorologist Jesse Kelley visited the National Weather Service in Shreveport to find out how you should be prepared this year.
“Often times we do see an uptick in severe thunderstorms during the months of March- May and November-December,” said Jason Hansford, National Weather Service Senior Meteorologist. In 2018, tornado numbers were very low across the United States. Tornado deaths were at an all time low at 10. However on April 13th, a tornado in Shreveport/Bossier resulted in a fatality. In April, the region experienced 19 tornadoes. Along with tornadoes, the ArkLaTex region expriences severe thunderstorms.
“Severe thunderstorms are often underestimated because they usually produce more widespread damage than that of a tornado,” said Hansford.
A severe thunderstorm is defined as winds over 58 miles per hour or greater and hail greater than an inch. Due to our location, we normally see hail size of a quarter. If conditions were cooler, we could see larger hail like golf balls. “When these upper level storm systems come into our region from the west, temperatures aloft in the upper parts of the atmosphere get very cold. If temperatures are not too warm at the surface, it is able to accommodate the larger hail stones,” said Hansford.
Flash flooding is another hazard we see in the ArkLaTex. Last year, Shreveport recorded its fifth wettest year on record with over 66 inches of rain. In 2016, portions of the ArkLaTex saw rain totals between 15-20 inches. Always remember TURN AROUND AND DON’T DROWN. “Flooding is the primary cause of deaths across the country,” said Hansford.
To prepare for the upcoming severe weather season, the National Weather Service will offer Skywarn classes to educate the public on how to become a storm spotter. “The trained observers are able to give us the eyes and ears of what is going on in these storms,” said Hansford.