All the signs are in place for a stormy weather pattern to brew up some severe activity in Oklahoma this weekend.
“There could be an outbreak Sunday,” National Weather Service forecaster John Pike said. “We’re really calling for severe thunderstorms and maybe even tornadoes.”
Pike encouraged locals to keep an eye on the weather starting Saturday night and through Sunday, as storms could develop at any time.
Angela Davis of Shawnee said she will keep an eye on the weather, but she isn’t planning any specific precautions – yet.
“I’ll wait and see what actually happens,” Davis said. “We live in Oklahoma where the weather changes every five minutes.”
Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director Don Lynch said it appears today is the start of a “multi-day severe weather outbreak” that is expected to last through Tuesday.
“On Sunday and Monday the biggest impact will be Central Oklahoma where super cells and tornadoes will be possible,” Lynch said. “Monday night into Tuesday, the threat appears to begin in Central Oklahoma and then shift eastward.”
Lynch reminds all residents to monitor weather conditions this weekend and be prepared to take action as needed, such as having a plan in place of where they could take shelter.
The city of Shawnee has public storm shelters in the basement of city hall, the basement of Shawnee Fire Station No. 3 on MacArthur Street and at a cellar in Boy Scout Park, he said. But parking and space are limited.
“Therefore, we are strongly encouraging people throughout Pottawatomie County who have shelters to be good neighbors and offer their shelters to others where possible,” Lynch added.
The Central and Western Oklahoma Region of the American Red Cross also urges residents to take steps to stay safe when severe weather and tornadoes threaten.
“By preparing together for tornadoes, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” spokesman Ken Garcia said. “We can help you and your family create a tornado preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by severe weather.”
The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for tornadoes by:
• Creating and practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick a “safe room” or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.
• Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.
Page 2 of 2 - • Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado Watch means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado warning is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low-lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.
The Red Cross also encourages downloading its free Tornado App. This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado