Out of season, but still in danger

Tornadoes occur in every month in Arkansas

Arkansas and Faulkner County are out of peak tornado season, but tornadoes can happen at any time.

There are two peak seasons for tornadic activity. The primary season is March through May, and the secondary season is November through mid-January.

“Tornadoes tend to be the biggest threat in seasonal transitions,” said Brian Smith, National Weather Service of Little Rock meteorologist. “We are out of primary season, but tornadoes have occurred in Arkansas in every month.”

In fact, he said, one of the largest outbreaks in history was on a June day in 1916.

Thirty-four tornadoes were reported in one day, and 87 people were killed.

The hardest hit area was Heber Springs, where the community lost 20.

Weather Service data shows there were just 18 tornadoes in Arkansas last year. The largest, an EF2, occurred in January. There were no reported deaths.

Year 2011, the year of the Vilonia tornado, shows 75 tornadoes in the state. There were 12 deaths, and six were from the April 25 tornado at Vilonia.

Thirty-two tornadoes were recorded in 2010.

According to Smith, the average number of tornadoes for Arkansas is 26 per year.

Thirty have been recorded so far in 2013. Five of the events were in January. Six were in April, and 17 occurred in May.

One tornado death has been reported this year.

Conditions for a tornado, which can occur at any time of year, are right when two differing air masses meet.

Cooler air meets warm air, and the potential for a tornado is created.

Tornadoes in Arkansas typically occur “whenever warmed gulf air and cold Canadian air are fighting it out,” Smith said.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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