Thursday, February 24, 2011

Storm season

It's the beginning of one of the toughest seasons in Arkansas -- late winter and early spring.  This is the time of year when strong storms can spawn tornados across the state.

Essential equipment for an Arkansas tornado season is a NOAA weather radio with S.A.M.E. encoding.  Almost any day with active weather, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings are going to crop up around the state, and watches will proliferate for hours.  If you have the basic weather radio, it will go off over and over and over.  The S.A.M.E. codes allow you to specify your county, so that you only receive alerts that apply to your area.  In addition, I've set our weather radio to sound the siren only for tornado warnings.  Nothing is more disconcerting, and at the same time more desensitizing, than having the siren go  off constantly in the middle of a thunderstorm cluster.

Tornados ... I don't like 'em.  Last year a funnel cloud starting descending within a couple of miles of our house, and we spent some time in our safe room (an interior bathroom).  I could do without that stress.  Every severe thunderstorm I ride out with heightened anxiety because of such threats.  But I'm calmer than I used to be.  Nothing can stop the weather, if it comes.  But I've beefed up our insurance because of the tendency of our street to flood and the proximity of earthquake-producing faultlines.  Our new landscaping and improved drainage gives me confidence that we can handle a greater variety of rainfall rates.

In the end, all you can do about storm season is wait it out and breathe a deep sigh of relief when the unsettled pattern smooths out.  At least spring brings color and sunlight and warmth along with the occasional violence of the atmosphere.

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