National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
TTAA00 KLIT 031200

Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Little Rock AR
600 AM CST Wed Mar 03 2021

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

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas 
Department of Emergency Management, has proclaimed the week of 
February 28th through March 6th as Severe Weather Awareness Week 
in Arkansas.  

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

In 2020, 45 tornadoes were counted in Arkansas. In an average 
year, 33 tornadoes are expected in the state. 

The peak seasons for tornadoes are spring and fall. This is when 
warm and cold air masses collide most often. In 2020, the busiest
month was January with 11 tornadoes identified. 

The strongest tornado of 2020 /rated EF3 and maximum winds around 
140 mph/ tracked just under 13 miles through the south/east side 
of Jonesboro /Craighead County/ on March 28th.

There were no high end /at least EF4/ tornadoes documented. The 
last one of these cut a 41 mile swath through Pulaski, Faulkner, 
and White Counties on April 27th of 2014. This tornado killed 
16 people. 

Monster tornadoes like this are rare. From 2000 through 2020, 
only two other tornadoes were rated as high as the one on April 
27th. During this twenty one year time frame, 817 tornadoes were 
spawned locally, and 83 percent of them /679 tornadoes/ were 
weak /rated EF0 or EF1/. These weak twisters accounted for only 
3 fatalities. 

...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 
sirens. 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 
these people. 


For a list of all the tornadoes and other significant weather 
events that occurred in 2020...