View Full Version : Where do I go in case of a tornado?



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DoctorTaco
04-08-2013, 08:14 AM
Hello,

First Oklahoma spring for me and my family. I live near Crown Heights in NW OKC. My house has no basement or tornado shelter. I know that in the worst case scenario we gather in the interior bathroom and hope for the best (also there is a really nasty, spidery, mildewy crawl space as a last resort). But I gather y'all usually have plenty of warning time on a tornadic storm blowing through. Given this fact, in theory we have time to move to a safer location. Where would we go? I've heard people say that they go to Penn Square mall (about a mile from here). Is this right? What about the middle of the night? Are there any libraries/churches that are open for this purpose?

Plutonic Panda
04-08-2013, 08:47 AM
I really would recommend paying the $1,500 to get an underground storm shelter. It would save you the risk of getting caught in a tornado going to a shelter. However, if you don't want to do that, I would say either Pennsquare during the day or a school gym. You could ask around and see if any of your neighbors have a storm shelter big enough to accommodate you and other family.

I know a bunch of cities are doing away with public storm shelters due to the safety hazard. The state had a rebate program and I don't know if they're going to do that again or not. But, I would either recommend an underground storm shelter or a reinforced bathroom.

I should also note, I've been through a few tornados including the F5(arguably an F6 ;)) that came through here awhile back and they are made worse than they really are. Most that happen here aren't really that big of a deal and you really only would have to worry if your were in a mobile home or a car. You'd be safer laying in a ditch than in a mobile home or a car. As long as your in a house attached to a foundation and in a closet or a bathroom, there is not too much to worry about unless the twister is a EF3 or above. If you take a direct hit from an EF5, that's when the party begins, you either make it or you don't, and you most likely will.

Basically though, people tend to go crazy over these tornados and make them look apocalyptic and all that, I don't buy it. As I've said, I've been through 4 of them and one was HUGE. Go look up May 3, 1999 if you don't know which one I'm referring to. If you want to play it safe though, and I would recommend being prepared as it never hurts the best time to prepare is now, just call someone and have an estimate. I believe they are in the field of $1,500 to $3,000 depending on what you get. Now, they are installed in your garage and ours seats 8 people, has TV, a bathroom, hydraulics to push to door open if there is something obstructing it, a siren(to alert people we're in there, radio, and a natural gas generator. I'm not sure how much it cost, as was here when we bought the house.

If you must go somewhere though, I'd say either a school, hospital, some neighbors house or your neighborhood might even have a public storm shelter, Pennsquare seems like an ideal place, though if your close.

kevinpate
04-08-2013, 09:06 AM
I've never understood the concept of getting in a car, generally near the height of a storm, and proceeding out into traffic with numerous other folks who have also gotten into a car near the height of a storm, and in a touch of anxiety and even panic, to travel to some large, aged, wide span structure, that may, or may not, be further out from the most damaging path of a storm.

When I was a wee lad, we booked across town to a friend's in ground shelter a few times. Oh, how I detested that, though I adored Mamie and Jess (who were no holds barred the absolute best pseudo grandparents a pack of lads could ever hope for.)

If Garry E or someone shows the storm track across my roof or three either side of me, I might decide to relocate a mile or three out and wait it out. But when the folks that are pretty danged good at the tracking show a primary path more than 1/4 mile or more away, I figure I'm better off where I sit. In the event of one of the rare, rare really wide storm tracks, yeah, I'd adjust the process accordingly.

flintysooner
04-08-2013, 09:08 AM
Stay home and take your best precautions. Roads and cars are very dangerous places.

MikeLucky
04-08-2013, 09:34 AM
I have a storm shelter in my garage and I almost never use it. I have lived my entire life in Kansas or Oklahoma, so chasing/running from tornadoes is old hat for me. Here are my tips for a tornado season noob.

Despite the things that tv shows and movies portray, getting sucked up into a tornado is not only extremely unlikely, it's far from the first thing you need to worry about. Tornado injuries and deaths are almost exclusively from debris that the tornado is throwing at 100mph at you. So, with that in mind you should find an interior room that puts the most walls and barriers between you and the stuff the tornado is trying to throw at you. If it can be inside a bathtub, that's even more ideal.

But, my number one tip for being tornado ready is watching the radar and being able to understand what you are seeing yourself... rather than relying on the screaming overeager meterologists. When you see a hook echo on a radar that is coming at your location on the map, it's time to be concerned.

3614

3615

3616

3617

3618

Oklahoma is the big leagues when it comes to severe weather. So, with that comes the best technology... but it also brings out the competitive over-hype situation in some of the local meteorologists as well. Personally I watch channel 5. I can't handle Mike Morgasm OR Gary England when it comes to coverage of a severe storm. Rick Mitchell was my favorite, but with him gone now I don't quite know how Damon Lane will be, but he seems pretty laid back so far. Either way, once you know how to read the radar you really just need to see the radar to know if it's coming your way. And, I'm always prepared for the power to go out and lose my lights and TV. If/when it does go out, I will turn on a battery operated radio and listen to the coverage while watching the radar on my smartphone. If I can't see a radar I tend to get more nervous.

And, I know it's a HUGE Okie cliche... but, for me the best way to know what is happening is to go outside and observe the conditions (EDIT: from inside the garage or under a covered patio that allows you to seek cover quickly, if necessary). Whenever a tornado is moving very close to you it is USUALLY a progression of heavy rain and high winds... then as the twister gets close you will have hail... then if it's REALLY close everything will just stop.... wind, rain, hail, all of it. It'll go very, very calm. That's when I start running for cover. When you are in the immediate proximity to the tornado, it is essentially pulling everything out of the air and sucking it up. Anyone that has been that close to a tornado will tell you that while it's completely calm, it's a very strange and eery feeling.

Personally, I think that knowing what to look for and being accountable for your own safety is empowering and removes the fear from the situation... If you sit around and listen to the weather guys scream for 3 hours then it ramps up the anxiety unnecessarily, in my opinion.

Plutonic Panda
04-08-2013, 09:42 AM
That's what I do, when the TV says get into shelter NOW, I walk outside casually and see whats going on. :P

kelroy55
04-08-2013, 09:51 AM
Can't speak for anyone else but a nasty, spidery, mildewy crawl space might look pretty good in a tornado, plus you can probably clean it up before you need it.

kelroy55
04-08-2013, 09:52 AM
That's what I do, when the TV says get into shelter NOW, I walk outside casually and see whats going on. :P

ditto

Anonymous.
04-08-2013, 10:01 AM
Everyone above has already covered all the points.


Stay home and take the time to understand what is going on, even if a storm is not approaching you, anything coming towards the metro from the West will be covered almost non-stop with helicopter, ground, and radar streams on multiple channels of TV, internet, and social media.

Listen to the terminology and watch the radars. The major tv networks pin point to actual neighborhood streets in Hi-Def radar scans. This technology is almost exclusive to Oklahoma TV stations. So when you see a hook-echo, like the user above posted helpful images of, near your area - then hunker down.


Being hit by a tornado is extremely rare, and dying from one is even more rare. The technology and warning that exists today generally make it easy to live through tornados.

Jim Kyle
04-08-2013, 10:08 AM
Oklahoma is the big leagues when it comes to severe weather. So, with that comes the best technology... but it also brings out the competitive over-hype situation in some of the local meteorologists as well. ... Either way, once you know how to read the radar you really just need to see the radar to know if it's coming your way. And, I'm always prepared for the power to go out and lose my lights and TV. If/when it does go out, I will turn on a battery operated radio and listen to the coverage while watching the radar on my smartphone. If I can't see a radar I tend to get more nervous.

And, I know it's a HUGE Okie cliche... but, for me the best way to know what is happening is to go outside and observe the conditions (EDIT: from inside the garage or under a covered patio that allows you to seek cover quickly, if necessary). Whenever a tornado is moving very close to you it is USUALLY a progression of heavy rain and high winds... then as the twister gets close you will have hail... then if it's REALLY close everything will just stop.... wind, rain, hail, all of it. It'll go very, very calm. That's when I start running for cover. When you are in the immediate proximity to the tornado, it is essentially pulling everything out of the air and sucking it up. Anyone that has been that close to a tornado will tell you that while it's completely calm, it's a very strange and eery feeling.

Personally, I think that knowing what to look for and being accountable for your own safety is empowering and removes the fear from the situation... If you sit around and listen to the weather guys scream for 3 hours then it ramps up the anxiety unnecessarily, in my opinion.Absolutely agree with this. Almost 60 years ago I was the weather writer for the Oklahoman, and learned then how to read the radar (but the weather bureau at that time did not release images to the public, and down-played the hook echo for fear of causing panic). I've been as close as 15 feet (vertically!!!) to a funnel but it was probably no bigger than an F1. Still, it carried away the squad tent in which I and 8 other ROTC cadets were sleeping; we were all under our cots and nobody got hurt. Flying debris is by far the biggest danger.

I always go out and look at the sky; if I see rotation I begin to get concerned. Until then I try to ignore the constant screaming from the TV. I do have a weather radio to get official warnings -- and they are much calmer than the TV folk! Still, I trust my own judgment more than anything else...

DoctorTaco
04-08-2013, 10:25 AM
A big thank you to everyone for all the feedback in this thread!

Roger S
04-08-2013, 10:27 AM
Being hit by a tornado is extremely rare, and dying from one is even more rare. The technology and warning that exists today generally make it easy to live through tornados.

Yep... I've lived in Kansas & Oklahoma the entire 44 years of my life and I've seen one tornado and it was at least a mile away from me.

On the other hand every year I go without being near one raises my odds of getting hit by one. :eek:

adaniel
04-08-2013, 11:59 AM
Listen to the terminology and watch the radars. The major tv networks pin point to actual neighborhood streets in Hi-Def radar scans. This technology is almost exclusive to Oklahoma TV stations. So when you see a hook-echo, like the user above posted helpful images of, near your area - then hunker down.


We really are blessed to have some amazing weather technology here. I was in Dallas last year during a tornado outbreak there and everything, from the weathermen on TV to the municipal warning system, was very amateur compared to what we have here.

All the advice here is very good. The only thing I will add is prepare early. If there looks to be severe weather coming, maybe clean out your closet so you are not rushing.

Whatever you do, don't leave your home, even when a local weatherman goes berserk and screeches "you can't survive this tornado unless you are underground or in a shelter!" I'm sure a lot of people from out of state hear this and freak out. Your home, especially a sturdy old one like those in Crown Heights, will hold up a lot better than you would think.

kevinpate
04-08-2013, 12:01 PM
In the great scheme of things, texting teen drivers and the fools who won't pay for a cab after their friends left them and their keys in a pub are way more dangerous. And even so, to date the only drunk to hit any of my cars managed to careen over a curb, off a tree, cross the yard and knock my car completely out of the driveway while, thankfully, no one was in it.

SSEiYah
04-08-2013, 12:18 PM
Crown Heights does not have tornados..My house was built in 1919 and is still standing :wink:

I'm in the same boat though. My house has large windows in every room including the bathroom, so really there is no place to go.

kevinpate
04-08-2013, 12:24 PM
Crown Heights does not have tornados..My house was built in 1919 and is still standing :wink:

I'm in the same boat though. My house has large windows in every room including the bathroom, so really there is no place to go.

Yeah, I used to say the silly things never landed in the core of Norman, and was right, until last year. As for the window issue in an old house ...
tub, prayer, mattress on top, hold on tight.

Larry OKC
04-08-2013, 02:08 PM
Underground if you can.
Lowest level of the building.
Innermost, smallest room.

OKCTalker
04-08-2013, 02:15 PM
A Bug-Out Bag is a good idea, and you can find lots of suggestions online for what to put in them. I keep mine in a closet where we shelter, ready to grab & run if that’s a better plan as storms develop. Dog leash, flashlights (don’t forget to check your batteries!), phone chargers, phone battery sleds, gloves, plastic tarp, duct tape, first aid kit, rain/wind shells, rope, energy bars, etc. If storms are popping up, we change into (or set out) jeans and study shoes. The bicycle helmets are in the garage, steps from our closet. When in the shelter, send a text to a few friends telling them where you are in case you get buried or injured.

Establish two “rally points,” or places where family members will reunite after a devastating storm. One is at the curb outside our front door, but if the neighborhood is destroyed then we meet at the nearby fire station. Buy a tool that will shut off water & gas meters. Here’s one for $9.97: Orbit Emergency Gas and Water Shutoff Tool-26097 at The Home Depot (http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/100030514?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=utility+shut+off+tool&storeId=10051&N=5yc1v&R=100030514)

And don’t forget either a weather radio or weather radio smartphone app.

MikeLucky
04-08-2013, 02:41 PM
A Bug-Out Bag is a good idea, and you can find lots of suggestions online for what to put in them. I keep mine in a closet where we shelter, ready to grab & run if that’s a better plan as storms develop. Dog leash, flashlights (don’t forget to check your batteries!), phone chargers, phone battery sleds, gloves, plastic tarp, duct tape, first aid kit, rain/wind shells, rope, energy bars, etc. If storms are popping up, we change into (or set out) jeans and study shoes.

That almost sounds more like a "stalker" bag.... just sayin'

:wink:

MadMonk
04-08-2013, 03:01 PM
I completely understand newbies' anxiety when it comes to tornadoes. I was 12 when we moved to OK (Del City) years and years ago and my first encounter scared the crap out of me. Looking back, it's kind of funny because it was a really small one and was going away from me. It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like that. I quickly learned what a wall cloud was! While at work in a downtown tower a few years ago, we had tornado alarms going off and you could tell the locals from the out-of-towners by who was standing at the windows looking for the funnel cloud and who was hiding in the stairwells. :)

Educating yourself on the weather terminology used on TV and understanding what's going on will go a long way to easing your mind during tornado season. Find where you are on a radar map and keep an eye on it during a storm where tornadoes are likely. If things look like they might get hairy, you have a good idea of where the storm is and where it's heading and can bug out somewhere safe if you leave early enough, but if you wait until the sirens start blaring, thats probably be a bit late to start driving away. I'm fortunate to have had a shelter since 2000, but I've only felt the need to get into it once. I was lucky that it passed me by without damage; but it's nice to have for peace of mind.

TaoMaas
04-08-2013, 03:02 PM
We shot an interview with someone whose house had been badly hit by a tornado. It tore most of the roof off the house and threw their ski boat from the front yard into the backyard. It had also leveled the house next door. Since folks are always saying to get in the bathroom in the event of a tornado, we asked if we could see the bathroom. It was entirely unhurt. There was a little bit of mud that had blown in around the door, but otherwise it was fine. The hand towels were still hanging on the rack and all their stuff was still on the top of the vanity. If you were inside that bathroom, you would have no idea how much destruction had occured to the rest of the house. It was kinda amazing.

TaoMaas
04-08-2013, 03:07 PM
To the OP: Keep in mind that most tornados have a fairly small footprint. Even during the May 3rd tornado, houses that were just a few blocks away from the direct path of the tornado were relatively unharmed.

OKCTalker
04-08-2013, 03:29 PM
That almost sounds more like a "stalker" bag.... just sayin'

:wink:

No - I've got one of those too. It's got a fake nose, mustache & glasses, trench coat...

OKCRT
04-08-2013, 06:10 PM
No - I've got one of those too. It's got a fake nose, mustache & glasses, trench coat...

AND if all else fails...


Then stick your head between your legs and kiss your azz goodbye!:)


I do remember Gary E. telling people in the path of the May 3rd tornado to get someplace underground because that badboy was taking everything right down to the foundation.

LocoAko
04-08-2013, 07:16 PM
The meteorologist in me is cringing at a lot of the advice being given in this thread (but I'm from the other side of it, the screaming heads apparently, and still new to the region, so meh. lol). Social scientists are frantically studying human behavior to learn how to have people NOT look outside to see the tornado for themselves. It is a huge problem and while most people who do so will be lucky and be fine, the best idea really is to take shelter immediately when a tornado warning is issued -- the advice on how to actually shelter is great. Furthermore not every tornado will have a prominent hook echo on radar (though most of the huge tornadoes probably will) so I really don't think it is wise to look at the radar data being shown on TV and take the matter into your own hands. I mean no confrontation by any of this, but working with scientists who have dedicated their lives to getting people to do exactly the opposite of the advice being given and then reading this is a tad discouraging, lol.

boscorama
04-08-2013, 08:00 PM
A word about tornado warnings: Don't be under a mattress in the bathtub for the duration of a warning in your county unless radar indicates it's nearby or coming your way.

Some people enjoy the storms. Until it's on top of me I'm outside watching and listening to rolling of thunder as the storm approaches. After it passes you hear it from the other end. When there's daylight there's usually a fabulous rainbow or two. Out in the country it's even more glorious.

(Stay away from lightning!)

Jim Kyle
04-08-2013, 09:26 PM
The best idea really is to take shelter immediately when a tornado warning is issued -- the advice on how to actually shelter is great.If, and only if, the issued warning is precise then I could agree with this. However in practice the warnings are issued for an entire county, or even more than one, and as a result appear to be false alarms almost every time. There seems to be a CYA attitude in place regarding warnings: if there's any possible chance of damage, issue the warning for the entire county. And in OKC, the city sounds the sirens whenever there's a warning for Oklahoma County. If I, living almost at the western edge of the county, took cover every time the sirens sound (when the storm that prompted them is at the southeastern corner of the county and all is well in my area) I would be spending most of the spring huddled in my safe room...

The key is to remain aware of what's going on, rather than being unduly influenced by screamers on TV.

Granted, we can now pinpoint storm locations much more accurately than was possible even 25 years ago, but we still don't have a way to localize the warnings enough to make your advice practical...

MikeLucky
04-08-2013, 09:48 PM
The meteorologist in me is cringing at a lot of the advice being given in this thread (but I'm from the other side of it, the screaming heads apparently, and still new to the region, so meh. lol). Social scientists are frantically studying human behavior to learn how to have people NOT look outside to see the tornado for themselves. It is a huge problem and while most people who do so will be lucky and be fine, the best idea really is to take shelter immediately when a tornado warning is issued -- the advice on how to actually shelter is great. Furthermore not every tornado will have a prominent hook echo on radar (though most of the huge tornadoes probably will) so I really don't think it is wise to look at the radar data being shown on TV and take the matter into your own hands. I mean no confrontation by any of this, but working with scientists who have dedicated their lives to getting people to do exactly the opposite of the advice being given and then reading this is a tad discouraging, lol.

I would wager that I've been closer to more tornadoes than most, if not all, of these social scientists you speak of. Not saying I'm smarter, just that experience breeds wisdom.

I've had some close calls... lol. But, rest assured this okie (like many others) knows exactly when run... and, does exactly that, when necessary.

Besides, I ain't gonna listen to some yankee scientist about what I should do when a 'nader is comin.' :wink:

LocoAko
04-08-2013, 10:05 PM
I would wager that I've been closer to more tornadoes than most, if not all, of these social scientists you speak of. Not saying I'm smarter, just that experience breeds wisdom.

I've had some close calls... lol. But, rest assured this okie (like many others) knows exactly when run... and, does exactly that, when necessary.

Besides, I ain't gonna listen to some yankee scientist about what I should do when a 'nader is comin.' :wink:

Touche. ;) I didn't mean to sound confrontational, and as a met I run outside, too ... so I'm being completely hypocritical lol . I just think that for the majority of the public without experience, the best idea is to take shelter, even if 99% of the time it is a false alarm at their specific location.

ou48A
04-08-2013, 10:22 PM
Before you run outside….. find out where the tornado is, its general speed and direction travel… you may well have time to run out side….. but then personal experience tells me that I may not have time.
If you get a long warning time evacuating out of the path is often the best option….However this becomes a less attractive option in an urban environment and in areas where there are lots of trees and hills.

Also, your personal knowledge of tornado weather should be factored in.
In general the more you know about tornados the safer you are when evacuating.
Always stay out of the bear’s cage.

rezman
04-09-2013, 05:54 AM
Crown Heights does not have tornados..My house was built in 1919 and is still standing :wink:

I'm in the same boat though. My house has large windows in every room including the bathroom, so really there is no place to go.


Back in he mid to late 60's, a tornado did come through that area. It hopped and skipped along what was then the 39th street expressway at Penn, and touched down again just north of Crown Heights, northeast of Bishop Mcguinness High School along what is now I-44, on the south side of the highway, and then went on northeast on the north side of the highway.

Doctortaco, it's an Oklahome tradition to go outside and observe severe weather. It won't take too long beore you'll be able to tell what the weather is going to do just by paying attention to the elements outside. And the technology today gives plenty of advanced warning to take shelter.

Oh... and Penn Square is the LAST place i would try to go to take cover, unless I could get down into the basements of the big department stores there.

Snowman
04-09-2013, 06:33 AM
I would only recommend using Penn Square (more specifically it's parking garage) during a heavy storm for protecting vehicles if a large non-tornadic hail storm is coming through. Either if you would have to drive through the storm to get home or live nearby and have a vehicle that would be outside if it was at the house.

Plutonic Panda
04-09-2013, 07:01 AM
BTW, do NOT pull under an underpass during a tornado or a intense straight line wind event.

Larry OKC
04-09-2013, 10:33 AM
Touche. ;) I didn't mean to sound confrontational, and as a met I run outside, too ... so I'm being completely hypocritical lol . I just think that for the majority of the public without experience, the best idea is to take shelter, even if 99% of the time it is a false alarm at their specific location.

Am always amused by some reporter that is doing a live shot from the middle of some storm and warning folks "don't do this at home". Wise words but contradicted by their actions (yes, I know its their job). And I am sure that the thought runs threw the mind of someone, "see, nothing bad is happening to them, won't happen to me either"

Also, sometime in the past couple of years various "earnings" have been issued. It used to be that a warning was reserved for when the event actually existed..verified by radar or eye witness accounts etc. If the possibility simply existed that a tornado or whatever might form, it was considered a "watch". Why did it change? By making what should be a watch, a warning, seems like crying wolf and folks will become complacent about the warning when a clear and present danger exists.

rezman
04-09-2013, 04:22 PM
Am always amused by some reporter that is doing a live shot from the middle of some storm and warning folks "don't do this at home". Wise words but contradicted by their actions (yes, I know its their job). And I am sure that the thought runs threw the mind of someone, "see, nothing bad is happening to them, won't happen to me either"

Also, sometime in the past couple of years various "earnings" have been issued. It used to be that a warning was reserved for when the event actually existed..verified by radar or eye witness accounts etc. If the possibility simply existed that a tornado or whatever might form, it was considered a "watch". Why did it change? By making what should be a watch, a warning, seems like crying wolf and folks will become complacent about the warning when a clear and present danger
exists.

Nothing has changed. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadic activity to occur. A tornado warning means that tornadic activity does exist and that a tornado is likely.

HotStuff80
04-09-2013, 05:23 PM
I agree about the scenario regarding NOT GETTING INTO YOUR CAR! As a 13 year-old in southwestern Oklahoma, my Dad would always get us in the car and drive 1/2 a mile to my grandmother's house (she had a concrete storm cellar).

We were traveling in her driveway, lined with Pecan trees and suddenly you could not even see the hood-ornament on the Buick , 4 door auto. When the wind and dirt cleared we found ourselves in a cotton field about 20 yards off the driveway. The next morning, we noticed that her three-storey barn was only 1 storey. Now... THAT was scary. Never again...

venture
04-10-2013, 12:12 PM
If, and only if, the issued warning is precise then I could agree with this. However in practice the warnings are issued for an entire county, or even more than one, and as a result appear to be false alarms almost every time. There seems to be a CYA attitude in place regarding warnings: if there's any possible chance of damage, issue the warning for the entire county. And in OKC, the city sounds the sirens whenever there's a warning for Oklahoma County. If I, living almost at the western edge of the county, took cover every time the sirens sound (when the storm that prompted them is at the southeastern corner of the county and all is well in my area) I would be spending most of the spring huddled in my safe room...

The key is to remain aware of what's going on, rather than being unduly influenced by screamers on TV.

Granted, we can now pinpoint storm locations much more accurately than was possible even 25 years ago, but we still don't have a way to localize the warnings enough to make your advice practical...

Warnings a bit more precise now. The warning polygons are going to cover the area most impacted. Most of the local TV stations have moved to show the actual warning area, but a few still just highlight the full counties. As far as the outdoor warnings, it comes down to the siren system the city has in place. I'm not familiar with OKC's, so I can't comment. The new siren system Norman put in place last year allows for only specific areas of the city to be sounded. This helps when say a tornado is over far East Norman (Lake Thunderbird area) but not impacting Western and Central Norman where the bulk of the population is (West of East 48th).

Tornado precautions aren't all that complicated, as others have pointed out. Basement, shelter, or safe room are first. If not available focus on lowest level, interior room, no windows, preferably a closet or bathroom (get in the tub). Protect yourself with pillows, a mattress, helmets, etc.

Definitely don't get in a car and try to go somewhere. Public shelters are pretty much non-existent in most cities due to liability problems.

Last part if you are in a car, ditch if your best option. Stay away from all overpasses - EVEN IN HAIL STORMS. Nothing irritates me more than 5 rows of cars under overpasses blocking traffic on a highway during hail.

Stay weather aware and don't put yourself in the situation to begin with.

ctchandler
04-10-2013, 02:46 PM
Other than military service, I have lived here my whole life and I'm 69 so I have been through what a lot of you have mentioned, including the tornado one year before the Del City destruction. I was outside with an old friend from Maryland talking when it hit. My wife yelled at us to come in the house. We crouched down in the hallway. After it was over we went outside and saw that trees were uprooted and snapped in two and every entrance to my home except my garage door was blocked. My 300 foot drive was covered with trees and it took the city to clear out the drive for us. It turned out that it was mainly in the air and didn't touch down on my property but that didn't stop it from destroying 160 trees. Yes, my wife counted them. One of my neighbors is a professional photographer and took about twenty pictures of the hook cloud(s) and the funnel itself. Nobody hurt, and only $4,000 damage to my home. And this is not advice, but in reference to the Del City monster tornado, it is the first and last time that I have ever heard the meteorologist (Gary England) say if you can get in your car, do it immediately and drive away from the direction of the tornado. Of course that tornado was extremely wide and moved the concrete slabs of homes.
C. T.

MsProudSooner
04-11-2013, 11:07 AM
We really are blessed to have some amazing weather technology here. I was in Dallas last year during a tornado outbreak there and everything, from the weathermen on TV to the municipal warning system, was very amateur compared to what we have here.
.

My daughter lives in Dallas and she's convinced that a tornado will blow away have of Dallas some day and they will get little or no warning.

ou48A
04-11-2013, 12:44 PM
My daughter lives in Dallas and she's convinced that a tornado will blow away have of Dallas some day and they will get little or no warning.


By comparison to OKC the Dallas TV coverage of tornadoes is terrible.
Also they act like anything past Denton is outside their coverage area.

ou48A
04-11-2013, 12:46 PM
I agree about the scenario regarding NOT GETTING INTO YOUR CAR! As a 13 year-old in southwestern Oklahoma, my Dad would always get us in the car and drive 1/2 a mile to my grandmother's house (she had a concrete storm cellar).

We were traveling in her driveway, lined with Pecan trees and suddenly you could not even see the hood-ornament on the Buick , 4 door auto. When the wind and dirt cleared we found ourselves in a cotton field about 20 yards off the driveway. The next morning, we noticed that her three-storey barn was only 1 storey. Now... THAT was scary. Never again...

No don’t get in your car if the tornado is 5 miles away…. But if you have an EF5 like on MAY 3 1999 near Chickasha and you live in Moore you have time to evacuate out of the way and to a rural area as long as you say tuned to updates. Don’t box yourself in and stay off the interstates. You have got to be smart about how you do it....It’s probably not for everybody.

kevinpate
04-11-2013, 01:09 PM
In the hope folks know this already category .....
If you are in your car and a storm rolls up on you, don't dash your car underneath the pump awnings at convenience stores or stop under the bridges that pass over the highway. Sure, you avoid a bit of hail, but you're not exactly cradling yourself in safety's bosom.

easternobserver
04-11-2013, 04:51 PM
In the hope folks know this already category .....
If you are in your car and a storm rolls up on you, don't dash your car underneath the pump awnings at convenience stores or stop under the bridges that pass over the highway. Sure, you avoid a bit of hail, but you're not exactly cradling yourself in safety's bosom.

Good point. Along those lines, be careful if you choose to have one of those in-garage storm shelters. Leave the car out of the garage, put the lawnmower outside, and get rid of the gas cans. These things really aren't safe -- gasoline vapors (and those of many other common "garage" substances) are heavier than air, meaning that when the gas can gets knocked over on a hot day the vapors are going to collect at the lowest point -- the beautiful sump you just built in the middle of your garage.

In reality, building codes (specifically the mechanical code) call the bottom 18 inches of the garage a hazardous area (that is why hot water tanks and other ignition sources need to be elevated above 18 inches.

Also, when those shelters are dug, they often are placed next to the wall between the house and garage, which is almost always a load bearing wall sitting on a load bearing portion of the foundation. Digging the shelter can impact the bearing plane of the foundation, leading to future foundation failures.

Some of the designs of these shelters are pretty cool -- especially if you put them in the back patio instead of in the garage.

SoonerQueen
04-11-2013, 06:34 PM
I live near Penn Square and unless you are already in the mall, you don't want to be in a car during a potentially dangerous tornado event. Penn Square parking garage is a haven during a major hailstorm. It's a great place to go if you don't have a garage to put your car in.

OkieHornet
04-13-2013, 07:41 AM
What are some of the best severe weather iPhone apps? Looking for one where you could specifically set it only for warnings, not watches. The more detailed, the better. As many watches we get, not really wanting to get woken up in the middle of the night for a freeze watch. ;-)

mkjeeves
04-13-2013, 08:31 AM
imap Weather Radio seems to be a pretty good app and has the ability to turn on which alerts you want to receive. (I have everything turned off but tornado warnings.) I got it when it was free, sponsored by Channel 9 and Sandridge, which means it has their banner ad on it and Channel 9 alerts in addition the other alerts. It is $9.99 otherwise. I don't know if that's still a possibility to get it free or not but here's the details:


Get The News 9 Weather Radio App FREE For A Limited Time - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports | (http://www.news9.com/story/17526533/get-the-news-9-weather-app-free-for-a-limited-time)

UPDATE: I sent the text again and got a different message than the original download link, so apparently it is no longer free that way. It's still a good app.

I saw the tornado up close and retreated back into what was then Jumbo Sports on North May minutes before it went over and took out part of the roof and AC equipment. Everyone in the store hid in the restroom until it finished rumbling over. I've seen a few other funnels dipping out of clouds over the years. Would like to have a hole in my garage but haven't done that yet.

OSUMom
04-14-2013, 11:01 PM
As you take your storm precautions, be sure to have something to drink on hand, so you can play the Gary England Drinking Game.

Gary England Drinking Game (http://www.okstorms.com/chasing/other_weather/drinking_game.htm)

OSUMom
04-14-2013, 11:08 PM
And for good advice, I agree with everyone else, do not get in your car. The only reason it was mentioned on May 3rd 1999 was because it was the first and only time I ever heard Gary England say "You MUST be underground. If you cannot get underground, go somewhere out of the path of this tornado." Plus if I remember right, that monster moved real slowly. So for once you had time to get somewhere out of the way.


And overpasses are a VERY bad idea. You are better off out in the elements in a ditch, then under an overpass.

Snowman
04-15-2013, 12:27 AM
As you take your storm precautions, be sure to have something to drink on hand, so you can play the Gary England Drinking Game.

Gary England Drinking Game (http://www.okstorms.com/chasing/other_weather/drinking_game.htm)

When I saw that a few years back, my first thought was those occur too frequently to do with alcohol

Bunty
04-15-2013, 02:57 AM
And, I know it's a HUGE Okie cliche... but, for me the best way to know what is happening is to go outside and observe the conditions (EDIT: from inside the garage or under a covered patio that allows you to seek cover quickly, if necessary). Whenever a tornado is moving very close to you it is USUALLY a progression of heavy rain and high winds... then as the twister gets close you will have hail... then if it's REALLY close everything will just stop.... wind, rain, hail, all of it. It'll go very, very calm. That's when I start running for cover. When you are in the immediate proximity to the tornado, it is essentially pulling everything out of the air and sucking it up. Anyone that has been that close to a tornado will tell you that while it's completely calm, it's a very strange and eery feeling.


I'll also add that it's a pretty serious sign that a tornado may be coming, if the electricity goes out at your house during a tornado warning. It could be your last warning to take cover.

Bunty
04-15-2013, 04:00 AM
I've never understood the concept of getting in a car, generally near the height of a storm, and proceeding out into traffic with numerous other folks who have also gotten into a car near the height of a storm, and in a touch of anxiety and even panic, to travel to some large, aged, wide span structure, that may, or may not, be further out from the most damaging path of a storm.



One can get an idea of the horror that suddenly erupts when you get in a car to race a tornado to shelter and the tornado wins here in story at bottom half of page: Stillwater's Friday the 13th Tornado (http://stillwaterweather.com/stwfriday13thtornado.html)

RadicalModerate
04-15-2013, 08:37 AM
Crown Heights does not have tornados..My house was built in 1919 and is still standing :wink:

I'm in the same boat though. My house has large windows in every room including the bathroom, so really there is no place to go.

I thought that all of the houses in Crown Heights at least had crawlspaces . . .
The ones that are full of Black Widows, Brown Recluses, Scorpions and Centipedes . . . Sometimes feral snakes. =)

MikeLucky
04-15-2013, 10:26 AM
I'll also add that it's a pretty serious sign that a tornado may be coming, if the electricity goes out at your house during a tornado warning. It could be your last warning to take cover.

Very good point... can't believe I left that one out.

ou48A
04-15-2013, 04:19 PM
I'll also add that it's a pretty serious sign that a tornado may be coming, if the electricity goes out at your house during a tornado warning. It could be your last warning to take cover.



With a lot of underground utilities in newer areas I would add that if the lights are repeatedly flickering it could be a sign of something bad.
The cause of this can occur many miles away.

I have seen this more than a few times in my life and Iím surprised that the weather folks donít give this tip out as something that very busy or distracted people could be on the look out for.

mkjeeves
04-15-2013, 08:05 PM
One of the astonishing things to me during the May 3 tornado was watching the live image of it on TV tearing through power lines and my lights browning in concert with each of the flashing shorts. I live miles from where it was but I guess it would have been on us pretty quick after that had we been in the path.

ou48A
04-15-2013, 09:24 PM
One of the astonishing things to me during the May 3 tornado was watching the live image of it on TV tearing through power lines and my lights browning in concert with each of the flashing shorts. I live miles from where it was but I guess it would have been on us pretty quick after that had we been in the path.

I experienced the same thing.
At the time I lived in east Norman. We lost COX cable but I quickly hooked up the rabbit ears.
I guess I need to go buy digital rabbit ears.

Jim Kyle
04-15-2013, 10:32 PM
I guess I need to go buy digital rabbit ears.Only if you have a digital rabbit. For the TV, my old original rabbit ears work just fine with all the digital signals. I'm on DirecTV, so when T-storms knock out the satellite signal, I switch to the rabbit ears and keep watching...

ou48A
04-15-2013, 10:41 PM
Only if you have a digital rabbit. For the TV, my old original rabbit ears work just fine with all the digital signals. I'm on DirecTV, so when T-storms knock out the satellite signal, I switch to the rabbit ears and keep watching...Thanks, I was under the impression that the old ones no longer worked.
Unfortunately I believe I threw out my old ones.

RadicalModerate
04-16-2013, 12:28 AM
I once helped design/build a big garage in the back yard of a Del City Dweller that involved the jackhammering and filling-in of one of those old, reinforced, concrete storm cellars that were once considered to be an asset so we could extend his driveway from its existing terminus to the new garage/storage building. They don't build 'em like they used to. =) Plus, at the time there probably would have been a lot of slimy water in the bottom that would have rendered it uncomfortable even in the face of a tornado.

The next door neighbors didn't complain too much on account of we gave them a new concrete walkway on account of the concrete truck was there anyways. And it was Del City. (all permits pulled/approved/verified/etc.).

I've seen two tornadoes. I have been in three tornadoes. The fourth one involved my SweetHeart and I huddling in an interior closet praying fervently. It missed us. But not by much: Really tore up the area to the NNE, especially that nice homestead over by the water treatment plant out around Hefner and Sooner.

Word on the TV set said that the injuries suffered out there involved impalement.
It sounded serious. Of course, that was maybe four or five years ago.

ctchandler
04-16-2013, 02:09 PM
RM,
I live about a mile from Hefner and Sooner, what nice homestead are you referring to? Is it the one West and slightly North of the sewage treatment facility? That would be Esperanza Farms and yes, there is a rather large home right there.
C. T.

I've seen two tornadoes. I have been in three tornadoes. The fourth one involved my SweetHeart and I huddling in an interior closet praying fervently. It missed us. But not by much: Really tore up the area to the NNE, especially that nice homestead over by the water treatment plant out around Hefner and Sooner.

Word on the TV set said that the injuries suffered out there involved impalement.
It sounded serious. Of course, that was maybe four or five years ago.