It’s Severe Weather Awareness Month, and probably for good reason. This weekend, another round of severe weather is expected. The following information comes from the city of Ardmore Emergency Management coordinator Amber Wilson.
1. Siren tests
Siren tests take place on the last Friday of each month within the city of Ardmore, weather permitting. Officials will not conduct a siren test if there is a threat of inclement weather in an effort to avoid confusion among city residents.
2. Tornado watch vs. warning
A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado. A warning means either radar or a storm spotter has detected a tornado or cloud rotation.
3. April tornado activity
Tornado season within the area typically starts around the middle of the month. The majority of tornadoes extend into May, with the threat lasting throughout the month. But this is Oklahoma, and the threat of tornadoes extends into other months. But overall, April is the springboard for what can be a busy May.
4. Become a trained storm spotter
The city of Ardmore depends on five storm spotters who routinely go out into the elements to report on conditions. Ham radio operators also provide reports to supplement the spotters. Wilson says she is also in communication with Carter County Emergency Management coordinator Paul Tucker, which makes providing information a group effort. Those interested in becoming a storm spotter have an opportunity to participate in the annual Severe Weather Awareness Day at the Ardmore Convention Center. The event is held each spring, and provides information for those interested in getting their foot in the door.
5. Blackboard Connect
Ardmore residents can receive notifications from the city through Blackboard Connect. The service is automatically provided to residents with listings in the phone book. To receive the service on a cell phone or through email, sign up on ardmorecity.org. There is a link provided for the services in the upper right hand of the web site.
“People need to pay attention to the news, particularly in Oklahoma when severe weather can happen at any time,” Wilson says. “In this day and age, there are so many apps for the phone, people can also be made aware of the weather. It is also important to prepare. It is important to stock up on batteries, water, toiletries and medication. They should also have cash on hand in case the electricity goes out and you can’t use credit or debit cards.
“You should also make sure someone knows where you will shelter in case something happens. It’s important to have a plan in place, and if you do not have a shelter, shelter in place and do not attempt to outrun a storm.”