Springlike temps bring likelihood of severe storms

Spring weather is welcomed for its sunny skies and cool breezes, but the season may also bring dangerous thunderstorms.

Ahead of the seasonal switch, Arkansas has declared Feb. 26 to March 1 as Severe Weather Awareness Week. Entergy Arkansas is encouraging customers to observe the week by making a severe weather plan, preparing and keeping a kit nearby and staying informed.

March 31, 2023, is a date that will forever be marked in Arkansas severe weather history, as tornadoes ripped through Entergy's service area, devastating areas of Little Rock and the town of Wynne.

"Following the tornado and after each severe weather event we experience, we strive to build back stronger," said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. "We are hardening the system with taller and wider poles and concrete structures where needed, and redesigning parts of the system to make restoring power safer and quicker in the future."

Entergy recognizes that the intensity and frequency of major storms are increasing, which is why the company is taking an accelerated approach to storm hardening and building resilience into the electric system.

"Building back stronger will provide reliable power well into the future and help communities recover more quickly following severe weather events," Landreaux said.

Entergy crews plan and train for storm readiness year-round, which aides them in restoring power as safely and quickly as possible, Landreaux said.

"As severe weather threatens, we monitor, mobilize and act. We're asking customers to be just as prepared for an emergency this spring," Landreaux said.

Make a plan. Sit down with your family and share all emergency contact information, so everyone knows how and whom to alert. Designate one or more out-of-town contacts. Be aware of the emergency plans at work, and if applicable, your children's school or elderly family members' residences if they do not live with you. If your household depends on life-support or other medical equipment, discuss with your physician, including alternate living arrangements, should unplanned, extended outages occur.

Keep a kit nearby. Experts agree it's a good idea to have items such as non-perishable food, plenty of water, flashlights, a first aid kit with extra batteries and a portable phone charger on hand and easy to access in case of storms. Remember to check the expiration dates on your supplies often and replace the expired items.

Keep up with weather updates. Install a smart phone app that will alert you when severe weather is in the area or sign up for emergency alerts on your smart phone. A weather radio with a loud alarm can also help wake you when severe weather threatens overnight.

Stay informed

Knowing how to communicate with Entergy Arkansas after a storm hits is important. There are several ways to report outages and downed power lines:

Download the free app for your smart phone at entergy.com/app.

Sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest.

Visit the Entergy Storm Center website and the View Outages page.

Call Entergy at (800) 9OUTAGE, (800) 968-8243.

Storms aren't the only emergencies for which to prepare. Team members from across Entergy's four-state service area recently completed Entergy GridEx training, which drills participants on extreme hypothetical natural and/or man-made threats to operations. Observing Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a reminder that extreme scenarios could happen during severe weather -- underscoring the importance of advanced planning.

Heather Kendrick is a communication specialist with Entergy.

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