Twenty years ago over a two day period starting on the evening of January 21 st and ending during the morning of the 22nd, the largest tornado outbreak in recorded Arkansas history occurred. 56 tornadoes were spawned over this time period, killing 8. At least eight tornadoes were rated F-3, with the strongest tornado rated F-4 in Clay County.
As tragic as this event was, there were some outstanding reports from trained storm spotters in the field. This was a challenging event occurring during the winter season when our focus is usually on that of wintry precipitation and frigid
temperatures. This event also occurred after dark, which makes spotting extremely difficult regardless the season. But through safe efforts of storm spotters trained by the National Weather Service, some valuable life saving ground truth reports were relayed to the NWS office in Little Rock, helping to increase lead time for warnings.
Twenty years later, that training is just as valuable and prudent for those whom volunteer their time and resources, and for the emergency response community. On Monday January 28 th at 6:30 PM, Franklin County Emergency Management in
conjunction with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma will present a Skywarn Storm Spotter training class. It is free and open to the public, and all amateur radio operators, firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and elected officials are encouraged and invited to attend. The location for this year’s class will at Arkansas Tech University Ozark Campus located at 1700 Helberg Lane in Ozark.
Information about severe storm genesis, types of severe weather, safety and spotting criteria, Doppler radar interpretation , and using web based National Weather Service products will be covered, as well as a review of the 2018 severe weather events which saw several tornado events here in Franklin County.
(In the event the Federal government shutdown is still in effect the night of the class, it will be postponed and rescheduled.)
Rick Covert – Deputy Coordinator
Franklin County Emergency Management