You never can be TOO prepared for Oklahoma’s violent weather. Even the outstanding people connected with the National Weather Service who handle all that sophisticated, modern technology will tell you there is always a need to do more.
Last weekend’s outbreak of severe weather, though forecast for days in advance, still caught some people by surprise. When storms intensify rapidly and reach severe limits suddenly, the results can be tragic.
In the Woodward area, at least six people died as a result of a tornado that swept across the city. In addition to the death and destruction in that storm, tornadoes caused damage in Norman, Mustang and near Prague. Luckily, residents in those areas avoided serious injury.
While forecasting and tracking equipment continues to improve, residents can help themselves, families and friends be ready to reach safety when storms occur.
Storm sirens are vital warning devices. Sirens were used in each of the cities mentioned above. Officials are evaluating whether the warning system in Woodward may have been damaged by the tornado, or by the storm which spawned the tornado, prior to it hitting the city.
Here are some key pieces of information from city, county, state and federal officials regarding outdoor sirens.
- When a siren is sounded, take shelter immediately and seek more information. With more information, you can decide what further protective measures to take.
- When the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat of a tornado has passed.
- Sirens may be activated more than once, as new or additional threats are identified.
- Oklahoma City officials advise they do not sound an “all clear” signal.
- Oklahoma City sounds all of its sirens in the county for which a warning has been issued.
- Activation of sirens are based on National Weather Service (NWS) Tornado Warning or a credible report of tornadic conditions
“Activating all of the sirens may irritate some residents, but it is incumbent on us to err on the side of safety,” Oklahoma City’s Emergency Manager, Frank Barnes said. “We want to give all residents sufficient time to take protective actions.
“We know it can be sunny on Midwest Boulevard in the eastern half of Oklahoma City while a tornado is brewing near Rockwell in the western part of the City. Severe weather and tornados move, and drivers need to know what they might be traveling into. It also gives people an opportunity to call family and friends in the threatened area to make sure they heard the warning.”
Oklahoma City tests outdoor warning sirens at noon on Saturdays when there is no threat of severe weather.
Thanks to Kristy Yager, communications director for the City of Oklahoma City for her assistance.
For more information about preparation to help you survive severe weather, go to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/SEVERE-WEATHER-OKLAHOMA.