One of the worst things about the Lone Grove tornado is that there is no guarantee that something similar will not happen again this year in Carter County.

 


One of the worst things about the Lone Grove tornado is that there is no guarantee that something similar will not happen again this year in Carter County.


The United States averages about 1,500 tornados a year, more than any other country in the world. A large percentage of those tornados occur in the south and south central portions of the country. Tornados are most numerous in Oklahoma in the spring, but, as observed recently, they can occur at any time of year.


Brian Barnes, who hosts the storm chasers blog, www.stormchasers.com, said 2009 could be a very active year for tornados.


“Based on climate data, I suspect that this is going to be an extremely busy storm season and the tornado threat will be intense this spring,” he said. “Historically, it’s when we go through a low tornado frequency period when people drop their guard, and then the first big storm takes everyone by surprise. That’s when we see tornado-related fatalities increase dramatically.”


Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Public Information Manager Michelann Ooten said the Lone Grove tornado reaffirmed many of the things emergency management directors have been telling people for years. Ooten said everyone should develop a plan well before severe weather threatens.


“We need to be aware of the weather year-round, and when tornado warnings are issued, seek information and put that plan in place,” she said. “The time to develop a plan is not when a tornado warning is issued.”


Every family should have a tornado emergency plan that includes how to properly shelter-in-place or evacuate if there is time. Have a pre-determined place to meet after the tornado has passed.

 

Families should practice their plans once a year so everyone knows what is expected.


 And homes, schools and businesses should always have National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios. The NOAA radios have a warning tone alarm that sounds when severe thunderstorms or tornados are headed for the area.


In addition to tornados, spring storms can also bring violent thunderstorms, hail, straight-line winds, lightning and flooding rains. Lightning kills an average of 73 Americans each year and injures more than 300. Flash floods kill an average of 146 people a year, with half of them drowning in their vehicles.


Ooten and other emergency management experts say that those individuals and families who are prepared and have a plan are much more likely to survive a serious weather outbreak.


“If you are waiting until you hear the tornado siren, it’s too late,” Ardmore Fire Chief J.D. Spohn said.


Steve Biehn, 221-6546
steve.biehn@ardmoreite.com