Wednesday afternoon, Bryan County held the first of many Storm Ready weather presentations to be held during the next few months.
The National Weather Service and Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management gave presentations at Southeastern Oklahoma State University to prepare local residents as well as the college community about storm readiness.
Rick Smith from the National Weather Service in Norman gave an hour-long presentation which covered weather threats, how to get information and what to do in dangerous weather.
While Smith briefly covered threats such as hail and flash floods, the presentation focused mainly on tornado threats.
Smith said that this is the time to be talking about such threats because while there is no certain “tornado season,” Oklahoma sees the most tornadoes in spring and early summer.
Smith said it is better to be informed now so that residents can develop a plan for such weather before it is a threat.
Smith informed the audience about the different categories of tornado from “weak” to “violent.” He said that even though a tornado is labeled weak does not mean it is not very dangerous.
The audience was given safety measures to take when bad weather hits. Smith advised having a plan to get to a safe room or shelter.
He urged audience members to not wait until they see a tornado or hear outside sirens, but to be proactive instead.
He gave a guideline according to the storm warning system. Outlook means “Ready” and people should be reviewing storm plans.
A watch means “Set” when people should be getting prepared for dangerous weather and a warning means “Go.” This is when people should be finding shelter.
Smith also went through different ways to get warnings such as phone apps, weather radios and local media.
After Smith’s presentation, Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management Director James Dalton related all the information given to local residents.
Dalton informed the audience of the ways the local Emergency Management used tools and resources that Smith had talked about at a local level.
“Tornado season is any time of year in Oklahoma,” said Dalton.
He said that it just happens to be that from mid-March to mid-June is “prime tornado season.”
“We encourage people to be proactive,” he said. Dalton said they are informing people about the low cost and no cost ways to stay informed and be ready for bad weather.
He also informed the audience about storm spotters who watch locally to see weather patterns that pose a threat.
Smith said anybody can be a storm spotter but advised the audience not to chase storms themselves.
He said his office is providing free on-line storm spotter training on the next two Tuesdays from 6:30 to approximately 8:30. Information can be found on the website www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/.
To inform college student on campus policies and procedures, Campus Police Chief Stacy Ballew gave a short presentation.
Dalton said that there will be more presentations such as this one in coming months. The next presentation is set for this Saturday, Feb. 24 at Victory Life Church.
The presentation is free to the public and will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.