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Weather and Climate
The climate in Pulaski and Lonoke counties is a humid subtropic zone, meaning it has hot, humid summers and mild winters, usually without snow. The average low in January is 31 degrees, and the average high in July is 92.
The climate makes outdoor activities possible year-round — as long as you safely prepare for four seasons of weather conditions.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
Ready Arkansas is the state’s official emergency preparedness campaign. Ready Arkansas uses education, training and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues and disasters of all kinds. The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors.
For more information about disaster preparedness, visit www.ready.gov/arkansas. You can also find a wealth of preparedness information online from the state Department of Emergency Management at www.adem.arkansas.gov/plan-prepare.
Another great resource for natural disaster and severe weather information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/disasters. Here you can find information on how to prepare for various weather emergencies.
The following are considered significant hazards in Arkansas.
While it may come as a surprise to many, numerous earthquakes occur in Arkansas every year. Most are too small to be felt by humans, but there is always a risk that a catastrophic earthquake could occur along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which is the most seismically active area of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
For more information about earthquake preparedness and response, visit the Department of Emergency Management at www.adem.arkansas.gov/earthquake.
Extreme Heat and Sun Exposure
Some exposure to sunlight is good, even healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, can cause blistering sunburns as well as long-term problems like skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression. Overexposure also causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
Cloud cover reduces UV levels, but not completely. Depending on cloud cover thickness, you can still burn on a chilly, overcast day, so be prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and a parasol.
Because of the county’s high temperatures, it is important to take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stay indoors when temperatures are extreme. Drink cool liquids often, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate the body. Eat small, frequent meals and avoid foods high in protein, as they increase metabolic heat.
If you must venture outdoors, avoid going out during midday hours. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. Avoid strenuous activities and keep hydrated. Cover all exposed skin with a high SPF sunscreen and follow general sun exposure precautions. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. If you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, you should move to a cooler location. Lie down and loosen your clothing, then apply cool, wet cloths to your body. Sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention. You should seek out immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat stroke, such as a body temperature of more than 103 degrees; hot, red, dry or moist skin; a rapid and strong pulse; or unconsciousness. For more information, visit www.adem.arkansas.gov/extreme-heat.
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Even beyond coastal regions, flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms affect every region of the country, damaging homes and businesses. It is dangerous to underestimate the force and power of water.
During a flood watch or warning, gather your emergency supplies and stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for further weather information. If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more on protecting yourself from flooding in Arkansas, visit www.adem.arkansas.gov/floods.
Arkansas is subject to severe thunderstorms, including supercell thunderstorms, which can produce large hail, high winds and tornadoes. A thunderstorm can knock out power and cause flash flooding as well.
While more likely at certain times of the year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power; bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail; and spin into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 rule: People should seek shelter if the “flash-to-bang” delay — the length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
For more information, visit the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management’s website at www.adem.arkansas.gov/thunderstorms.
Arkansas experiences tornadoes mainly in the spring and summer, but the dramatic wind funnels can bring a dangerous path of damage at any time of year. Tornadoes can develop quickly, with minimal warning, so it is important to have a plan in place before they occur. If a tornado watch is issued, weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, such as during a severe thunderstorm. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. You should take shelter immediately during a tornado warning.
For more information on tornado preparedness, visit the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management website at www.adem.arkansas.gov/tornados.
The majority of wildfires are caused by humans. Causes include arson, recreational fires that get out of control, negligently discarded cigarettes and debris burning. Natural causes like lightning can also cause a wildfire.
If your home is in an area prone to wildfires, you can mitigate your risk. Have an evacuation plan and maintain a defensible area that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, newspapers and other brush.
Even if your home is not in the vicinity of a wildfire, the smoke and ash produced by wildfires can create air quality issues for hundreds of miles. Pay attention to local air quality reports following a wildfire in your area.
Wildfires are unpredictable and impossible to forecast so preparation is especially important. Visit www.adem.arkansas.gov/wildfires for information on wildfire preparedness.
While winters are mostly mild in Pulaski and Lonoke counties, the area is no stranger to snow and ice. Monthly snowfall averages about 2 inches December through February. Add wind chill to that equation, and you’ll want to be prepared for the winter chills.
Prepare for winter storms by assembling a disaster supply kit for your home and vehicle. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
When winter storms and blizzards hit, dangers include strong winds, blinding snow and frigid wind chills. Avoid unnecessary travel during storm watches and warnings and stay indoors.
Winter storms can also cause power outages. During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source. Use fireplaces, wood stoves and other heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside. Never use an electric generator or a gas or charcoal grill indoors. The fumes are deadly. If you use a space heater, keep the heater away from any object that may catch fire (drapes, furniture or bedding) and never leave it unattended. Avoid letting pipes freeze and rupture by leaving faucets slightly open so they drip continuously.
For more information on winter preparedness and winterizing your home and vehicles, visit www.adem.arkansas.gov/winter-storms-and-extreme-cold.