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Need-to-know for severe weather season

A bunch of black lines are swirled together to simulate a tornado between two red boxes.

(U.S. Air Force graphic illustration by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Airmen and their families should take into consideration base procedures and notifications during severe weather conditions at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

The location and severity of the weather dictates what the 19th Operations Support Squadron weather shop communicates to the 19th Airlift Wing Command Post and ultimately, when notifications are sent to the base population.

A rare but important notification for Airmen and families to be aware of is the base siren. Command post will sound the siren when a tornado is within a five-mile radius of the center of the airfield. This siren is activated by different criteria than the Jacksonville, Arkansas, tornado siren, which will sound when a tornado touches down in any part of Pulaski County.

 “We don’t want to alert the base to a threat that isn’t going to be there,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Goalen, 19th OSS weather technician. “Alerting people to go into tornado procedures when the tornado isn’t a threat to us causes panic and a loss of productivity, which is why we sound the siren only at certain times.”

Airmen and their families will receive notifications of tornado watches and warnings through AtHoc indicating the weather conditions are primary for a tornado but that doesn’t mean one will form.

Preparing for severe weather includes more than knowing the base procedures. Airmen and their families should make sure they’re prepared in their homes in case a tornado or inclement weather occurs.

Airmen from 19th OSS weather recommend individuals should have a bag on standby with non-perishable food and water, a radio, phone charger and rechargeable battery ready for severe weather. If sirens go off due to a tornado warning, get to the nearest shelter-in-place or go to the most center room with no windows of the bottom floor of a house.

Airmen should also update their AtHoc on a regular basis so they can receive notifications and updates to be able to respond appropriately to the weather conditions.

“We are going into severe weather season, so people should keep extra food and water in their house just in case something does happen in addition to keeping up with the weather,” Goalen said.

Weather may change rapidly, but command post and 19th OSS Airmen work together to determine the intensity of the situation pushing notifications out to the base population when necessary.

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