National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
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Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Little Rock AR
600 AM CST Thu Mar 03 2022

...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 27th through March 5th 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. 

The largest hail in 2021 happened in central and southern Arkansas
on March 27th. Baseball size and slightly larger stones were 
reported at Gurdon (Clark County), South Bend (Lonoke County), and 
Whelen Springs (Clark County).

Large hail, on average, causes over one billion dollars in damage 
(property and crops) in the United States each year. While large 
hail causes some injuries, 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. 

Some of the strongest gusts in 2021 occurred across northern 
sections of the state on May 4th. Gusts from 85 mph to more than 
90 mph were noted at Hoxie (Lawrence County), Manson (Randolph 
County), and near Paragould (Greene County).

Occasionally, thunderstorms spawn tornadoes. Most of these are 
produced in the spring and fall during the afternoon and evening. 
There are 37 tornadoes in a typical year. There were 35 tornadoes 
locally in 2021, and these resulted in two 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 permanent structure in an interior room away from 
windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you 

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. 


For a list of all the tornadoes and other significant weather 
events that occurred in 2021...