From the Office of Emergency Management

Over the last several weeks we have endured the stress that comes from the most dangerous weather in the world. Central Oklahoma has endured 2 EF5 tornadoes within 2 weeks of each other. That’s almost unheard of. This said, I did mention earlier this spring that we would have storms and many of those would be very dangerous. This has come to pass, just not in our area. We have had all the ingredients to have the super severe weather here but storms to our south have robbed a lot of that energy from the area several times. I am not complaining but here are few points to ponder; you’ve seen the devastation, you’ve seen the deaths, you’ve watched all the drama on television, and now here comes everyone out of the woodwork as experts on how to prevent all of this from happening. It starts with a simple word: PREPAREDNESS

As you all know, I have harped on this for years and people still call the day of the storm asking, what do I do and where do I go?  There may be many reasons for this that we’ll never understand but how do you reach as many as you possibly can? Even through our email, Nixle, Viaradio, Face Book, Twitter, and paging portal systems we only reach about 6-8 thousand people in a jurisdiction, countywide, of about 60 thousand. You can watch television and now we have people telling you to get in your car during tornadoes and drive south. That just puts more people’s lives in danger. Then here is this question; do I stay in my car if I am caught out in a tornadic storm or do I get out of my car and into a ditch? To me, that’s the same thing as being in a house without a saferoom or cellar and being told to get out of the house and into a ditch. If anyone receiving this email read my blog post of June 2nd, I addressed this issue to a point. Here a hyperlink to that blog:  http://gcem.org/good-information-or-panic-during-storm-season-and-beyond-6213/   Read this when you have time, it’s fairly long.

There will be many new concepts on what to do coming out over the next several months and years. I will address my thoughts on these issues in later posts.

I take this position seriously. THIS IS NOT A GAME. Being a warning coordinator within my emergency management position with both city and county involves a lot. People’s lives are in the mix. Overseeing our storm spotter network is a big responsibility too. Our spotters are NOT chasers. We have done away with that because some in the past had decided to follow their own rules and not ours. You don’t need to be in the debris field of a tornadic storm to get the word out. You just get dead if you aren’t careful. Storm spotters are observers. They stay at a nominal distance derived from their experience and location and report what they are seeing. We then relay that to the NWS through our direct access to their forecasters, both on-line and over our 2-way communications networks. We are far more advanced here than most people realize. Many of our spotters will become CERTIFIED for the first time, through the office of emergency management later this month. We are finalizing the list now and will publish that list later this month. Our network consists of personnel from all of our Rural Fire Departments, Sheriff Deputies, and Enid Police Officers. There are also personnel from our surrounding counties that will be certified through our program. These people are the most dedicated personnel I have had to privilege to work with and train.

I always stress to have several ways to get weather information besides your phone. Systems can fail due to winds and lightning, just remember that. I understand this very vividly when we took a direct hit by lightning in our operations center. It killed everything. The first time in 17 years we were 100% down. Just keep this in mind.  Make sure you have a NOAA weather radio too. Our local radio station call numbers are 103.1 KOFM and 107.1 KNID. Hopefully they are still on the air. Several news agencies here in town forward our info too. Support and watch them online if you still have internet. Watch television if you can handle the drama.

Finally, let’s get to the weather. There is a chance for more thunderstorm activity today as a cold front finally works into the area. The rain we have had this morning has stabilized the atmosphere such that if we do encounter more storms, without getting any sunshine, then most likely they won’t be severe. If the sun comes out, it will de-stabilize enough to put us on the borderline for severe weather. If that happens, large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall will be our main threats. The tornado threat here is low. We might even have storms overnight once again. I’m working on coffee fumes right now anyways.

Stay safe and input from you all is important. Let me know your thoughts on some of these issues. Like I stated before, changes are forthcoming. I would like to attend the up and coming meetings with NWS officials with ideas that came from our citizens.

Have a super day.

Mike