Weather events now the norm

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Severe weather has been making its presence known in northeast Arkansas over the past several months. From strong winds and heavy rains brought by the remnants of tropical depression Ike in September to the disastrous ice storm at the end of January and the six to eight inches of snow which fell on the area in a matter of hours this past weekend, this region has known full well the fury of Mother Nature.

The recent snow sent waves of concern coursing through the minds of many in Clay County as the all-too-real ramifications of the late January ice storm remain a fresh reminder of how much the world outside can impact everyday life.

Fortunately, Saturday's snow did not bring with it the dangerous ice which can destroy power lines and trees while making roadways impassable. No, the snow storm was merely what its name implies -- a lot of snow falling in a rather quick fashion.

There were no major inconveniences resulting from the snowfall. No power outages or loss of services have been reported as a result of the snow. The lack of "excitement" following the snowfall has left many residents breathing a sigh of relief.

As of Tuesday, there still were a few patches of snow in the area, while most of the winter coating had melted away from the rays of the sun. With reports indicating a warming trend through the remainder of the week, even those few chilly remaining snow drifts are likely to be completely gone soon.

Unlike previous events, conditions did not worsen to the point where area schools were forced to close. Rector and Marmaduke closed for nine days during the ice storm, while Rector also missed two days with power loss in the aftermath of Ike's straight line winds.

Almost serving as an afterword to the extreme weather is the ongoing clean-up process taking place in many communities throughout the area. City and private crews have been hard at work removing the large brush piles which had become a noticeable part of the landscape.

The impact of the weather systems have left another impression on the communities which they have afflicted. Many local governments are examining their emergency response systems and disaster plans to be better prepared for any future events.

There may be a need for such preparation as tornado season arrives -- and there is the always-present threat of an earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

Local residents are encouraged to evaluate and update their own emergency plans. Persons are encouraged to make sure their smoke and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries, as well as maintaining non-perishable food supplies and a plan for where loved ones are to meet. Additional information on what steps should be taken during an emergency can be viewed at

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