Weather Safety While Camping and Hiking

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We all know how fast Arkansas weather can change. As folks head outdoors for camping and hiking this weekend through the summer and fall. Always be weather ready and weather aware. Here is some great advice from the National Park Service.

Know Your Park

  • Check out your park’s website or give them a call–they can provide you with specific information on what weather to expect when you’re exploring.
  • Look out for active alerts or closures-they will let you know if there are any dangerous conditions or closures within the park.
  • Ask a ranger! When you arrive at the park, ask about:
    • Locations within the park that are high-risk for weather hazards. For example, there may be peaks, points or fields that regularly experience lightning.
    • Safe places to take shelter around the park.
    • Warning systems that can provide notification on severe weather.
  • Have a Plan B, just in case! Be flexible and adjust your plans if the weather is not ideal. If the forecast calls for afternoon thunderstorms, plan activities such as hiking for the morning.

Keep Up With the Forecast

  • Know the Severe Weather Terms and their meanings
  • A ‘Watch’ means be prepared! “Severe weather is possible in and near the watch area”
  • A ‘Warning’ means take action! “Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. This indicates imminent danger to life and property.”
  • Check the weather forecast. Take a look at the local weather forecast at KARK or the Arkansas Storm Team App (download at Google Play or the Apple App Store) before you leave for the park and again when you arrive. Weather conditions may have changed.
  • Sign up for Weather Notifications. Sign up for text and email weather reports and updates, such as NWS Wireless Emergency Alerts. Just remember, not all parks have cell service, so check in with park rangers for alerts before you go on your adventure.
  • Bring and listen to the NOAA Weather Radio and check the current conditions.

Take Shelter

  • Get inside of a sturdy building if bad weather is approaching. Sheds, storage facilities, porches, pavilions/picnic shelters, and rain shelters are NOT safe locations during severe weather.
  • Drive to the closest shelter. Enclosed vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses and vans can provide a safer shelter if you are unable to make it to a building. Sheltering in cars is not safe during certain weather conditions, such as tornadoes and floods.

Hazards After Severe Weather

  • Be cautious of any new hazards and risks. The park terrain may look different after a severe weather event has occurred. Be careful of your surroundings as rocks may be slippery and trees may have fallen. Do not go near downed power lines, avoid areas of flooding, mudslides and washed-out roads.
  • Report hazards to the park. Let the park know of any hazards as a result of weather, like trees that may have fallen, mud or rock slides, washed out trails and roads or down power lines.
  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1. If there are any injuries or an emergency situation, call 9-1-1.

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