Tornado threats are not often a common occurrence during winter months, so when severe weather moves in it can catch a lot of people by surprise.
"The Cincinnati tornado did catch a lot of us in Northwest Arkansas off guard. It's typically what we call the winter season, we don't think about tornadoes, we think about those during the spring weather."
Nearly two years ago, a tornado touched down in Cincinnati, AR on New Year's Eve. The unexpected storm, claimed the lives of four people and injured many. Now, unseasonably warm winter temperatures have severe weather threats looming over our area.
"I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and I always thought, we don't need to worry about it and then Cincinnati did hit and that's just right outside of where I live... We all need to make sure in Northwest Arkansas, since we do have those weather fluctuations of 30 degrees between an evening and a morning, that we're all just aware of that because a storm can pop up at any time," said Jeff Patrick with the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Patrick knows there are simple things you can do to stay safe during a storm.
"Preparing for a disaster is not hard, it's stuff you already have in your house, it's just pulling it to one area... Make sure if you have some soup or ravioli that you can do a pop-top or you have a can opener in your kit. Make sure that you do pull two, three bottles of water per person, and make sure that your flashlights have batteries in them. Test those batteries."
And staying tuned to storm coverage is also a necessity.
"Just be aware. Make sure you have either batteries in your radio or if you have a crank weather radio make sure that's charged up."
Amidst the holiday chaos, dangerous climate conditions might not be on our minds. But, Patrick wants everyone to take severe weather watches and warnings seriously.
"It can catch us off guard especially during this really busy time of school letting out, it's the end of the school season right now, a lot of folks out shopping, a ton of folks out on the roads... Just be aware of what's going on outside."
Patrick said the Red Cross has disaster responders monitoring the weather and volunteers are on standby, ready to jump into action if needed.