Few things are apt to draw an Oklahoman’s attention like the topic of weather. It is not enough to look outside and look at conditions. Weather is a subject to be thoroughly discussed, analyzed and debated.
Thursday afternoon, Amber Wilson, Ardmore Emergency Management director, spoke to the Ardmore Lions Club. Armed with pamphlets and other useful information, Wilson discussed different aspects of weather, and provided advice in dealing with inclement weather.
In keeping with the basics, Wilson discussed the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, and how the city reacts to a tornado warning.
“All tornado watch means is conditions are favorable for a tornado, and be more aware,” she said. “A warning comes when radar or a storm watcher has confirmed there is a tornado in the area. It may not mean for the whole county and it may not include Ardmore.”
Wilson said although Ardmore may be under a warning, she will not sound the siren if the city is clearly out of the path of a tornado, and cited a tornado traveling northeast from the Healdton area as an example.
Residents can take a more proactive approach and purchase their own weather radio. Wilson recommended each household have a radio, as there are times when an outdoor siren may not be the best warning signal.
“An outdoor warning system is not meant to wake up people,” she said.
Wilson said as part of her duties, she works with both the Ardmore police and fire departments. As emergency management director, she is a one-person team, but works with a number of volunteers.
Wilson also discussed several of the programs the city has with the public, including registering a safe room or storm shelter. In case of a significant storm event, the city has each registered shelter logged on GPS, making it easier for first responders to aid a family in case of a need.
For those without shelters, Wilson said it is important to have a plan in place to seek shelter. Neighbors are often the first source of refuge. The city has one community shelter, which is located at the Plainview High School gym. The shelter is best used for those people in particularly vulnerable residences with no place to go.
For others, Wilson recommended sheltering in place as the best option.
“People need to cover themselves with pillows and blankets to protect themselves from flying debris,” Wilson said.
Wilson said other shelters used to be available, but liability fears as well as damage and other issues at open shelters, have steadily decreased residents’ options.
For those seeking aid to place a shelter at a residence, Wilson said she is currently working on a grant, which would benefit city residents.