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Norman’s Emergency Manager encourages severe weather preparedness

Residents encouraged to plan, stay weather aware and seek cover immediately when outdoor warning sirens are sounded


According to National Weather Service’s statistics from 1950 to 2016, in Oklahoma 787 tornadoes have occurred in April, and 1521 tornadoes have occurred in during May, which are the most tornado prone months of the year in our state.  With a likelihood of severe weather just around the corner this spring, the City of Norman’s Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Travis King is reminding residents of the importance of being prepared and staying informed.

“During the threat of severe weather, it is imperative for residents to have an emergency response plan in place and to stay aware of changing weather in our area,” said King. “Residents now have multiple means of staying weather aware, including radio, television, and weather apps for smart phones.”  King said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radios are a must for every household. 

The City of Norman Emergency Management supports the “shelter in place” concept of seeking immediate shelter indoors.  Move to the lowest level of your home or office in an interior room with no windows such as a closet or restroom.  Tornadoes are fast-moving and can change directions quickly.  Unless you live in a mobile home, it is generally safer during a tornado warning to take shelter in your home or office than to attempt to leave to seek shelter elsewhere. 

It is important for the safety of families that the emergency plan includes the process for determining when to leave the home or to vacate to a shelter location. When a family decides to vacate, the plan should be put in place early enough for the family to reach their destination long before the storm enters Norman. 

“Too often families wait for the outdoor warning sirens to sound before enacting their plan but by then it can be too late to properly react to conditions,” King noted.  “Awareness is the key to being prepared.” 

The City of Norman’s outdoor warning devices, or warning sirens, are intended to alert residents who are outdoors and unaware of the threat of a tornado. While the sirens can be heard indoors in some areas of the community, they are not meant to alert residents who are indoors. Newer homes are very well insulated which may prevent the sirens from being heard indoors. Noise from televisions and radios may muffle the sound of the siren or make it impossible to hear. The sirens are not intended to wake those who are sleeping.

While indoors, it is important for residents to stay weather aware. Various media are available to the public to allow residents to track severe weather and react accordingly.  The most popular is local television coverage of a storm.  However, residents should have multiple means for receiving weather information during a storm.  In addition to NOAA weather radios, portable radios or televisions are good resources, as well as smart phone apps. The internet has various sources of information from the National Weather Service and a wide variety of other weather- related sites.When conditions are present for the City of Norman to sound outdoor warning sirens, it is the last opportunity to warn residents that a tornado has been spotted by human eye or radar and is moving toward Norman. When the sirens are sounded, take shelter immediately.

The sirens sound for three minute intervals. Residents may hear the sirens sound multiple times because when conditions warrant, warning sirens are sounded for each separate storm or when the same storm continues to be a threat as it moves through the community.

The City of Norman does not sound an “all clear” siren. 

The sirens are tested each Saturday at noon, except when the possibility of severe weather is present or when special events are planned.

For more information about severe weather preparedness, contact David Grizzle, Norman’s emergency management coordinator, at 292-9780.


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Source for tornado statistics: https://www.weather.gov/oun/tornadodata-ok-monthlyannual