We had a taste of some strong thunderstorms early Wednesday morning and severe weather season is upon us.
Living where we do it is not a matter of if we’re going to get severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, it is a matter of when and how bad they are going to be.
Rick Smith is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma.
“For parts of our area, a lot of Texoma has not seen a major tornado in many many years. So there’s a lot of people that live here that don’t have a good grasp on what do I do in a tornado,” Smith said.
And so right now, as you read this think about what you will do. Start where you live.
“If it’s a mobile home there are really no good options for safety in a mobile home so your plan needs to think about where can I go? And that is going to require further in advance action if a tornado is coming,” Smith said.
In your home or office consider this.
“Find the part of the house or building that you are in that puts as many walls between you and the outside as you can. Lowest floor, the centermost part of the building and cover up with whatever you have available,” Smith said.
And something to cover your head, like a helmet. On a severe weather day, there might be a little bit of extra work.
“If it is a closet in the middle of the house, if that closet is full of junk, like many closets are in my house, make room for your family to get in there on a severe weather day,” Smith said.
And consider what you might deal with after severe weather passes.
“Our tornadoes happen when it is sunny and 85 degrees and we may be dressed in shorts and flip flops and tank tops and we’re not dressed for the environment after a tornado. Closed toed shoes are important. Long pants are important. You’re going to be walking out through all kinds of glass, wood, metal, nails. Dress the part, thinking that I could be walking around in debris, in the pouring rain, 40 degrees colder than it was when I went in the shelter, windy, and I may have to live in these clothes for some hours or days if your home is destroyed,” Smith said.
Kim Klockow-McClain is a societal impact researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is studying people’s response to severe weather.
“If you don’t have a plan and things are starting to happen then your brain goes into a kind of tunnel vision and you’re not considering as many things as you might if you’re not in the moment not in the crisis so just from that perspective you’ll be at a disadvantage if you’re trying to push it off and not think about it until the last minute,” Klockow-McClain said.
Kim’s message? Plan ahead.
“As we get into severe weather season it is important for people to think about what they need to have on hand if severe weather strikes, but also to have a family plan if there is a severe weather day. Where will you be, where will your children be? If you’re coming up on a day where severe weather is possible, just have a plan. Just the mere fact of having a plan helps you so much the day that things take place,” said Klockow-McClain.
If you’d like to dig a little deeper, all things weather safety can be found at the national weather service website, it is called weather-ready nation.