Spring is a welcome change from the bitter cold of this past winter, but along with the warmer temperatures comes the beginning of tornado season. Many Oklahoman’s are keeping a nervous eye on the sky after last Mays devastating tornadoes, which killed 48 people and injured hundreds more.

In response to last years storm season, changes are being implemented to help protect people across the state. The National Weather Service (NWS) has been testing an updated tornado warning service in several parts of the country, and recently implemented the new service in Oklahoma. The new tornado warning service provides more descriptive warnings to help people better understand the dangers of any nearby storm system. For example, the impact-based warnings will advise people that, Mobile homes will be damaged or destroyed, or that Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. The NWS hopes that these new warnings will be more effective in convincing people to take shelter or stay inside.

Additionally, the new system provides meteorologists with additional forecasting tools. It helps meteorologists identify the location of active tornadoes through a Doppler image of the debris clouds the tornadoes create. By pinpointing the exact location of an active tornado, meteorologists hope to be able to warn those in the surrounding areas of the immediate danger.

Tornado Preparation Tips

To prepare for tornado season, Oklahoman’s and their families should make a plan in case disaster strikes nearby. The NWS and disaster preparedness experts recommend the following actions:

  • Know where you will go during a storm-locate and prepare shelter near your home and know where to go at work
  • Stay near shelter during dangerous weather and don’t travel unnecessarily during a storm
  • Have multiple sources that can alert you to dangerous weather, such as your tv, text messaging systems, or a radio
  • Seek out reliable weather information from trusted sources, not social media
  • Be able to locate your community on a map so that you can track the location of dangerous storms
  • Keep your shelter area clean and stocked with supplies in case of an emergency

Certain supplies are a necessity after disaster strikes. Be prepared by stocking up on food, water, batteries, flashlights, tools, bags, and first aid supplies. Also consider adding items specific to your family’s needs, like prescription medications, pet supplies, or children’s toys.

What To Do When a Tornado is Approaching

When a tornado is nearby, anyone outside should immediately seek shelter. During last years tornadoes, some people tried to take shelter in businesses, churches, and schools, but were turned away. The owners of the buildings feared that they would be liable for any injuries to people they assisted if a tornado struck the building. Two Oklahoma lawmakers are hoping to ease these fears by proposing a new bill to Oklahoma’s legislature. Under the proposed bill, individuals, businesses, schools and churches who provide assistance during a catastrophe would be exempt from liability if their temporary guests are injured or killed during a storm. The bill has passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and is waiting on a vote before the Senate. If it is approved, it will be sent to Gov. Mary Fallin. If she signs the bill, it will take effect immediately.