Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 9, 2013

Risk there for rough storms

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — With spring now here it’s time to really pay attention to the weather and the threat of severe weather coming our way.

It’s the potential of weather turning ugly and potentially deadly that keeps many first-responders and other emergency personnel alert and ready for just about anything.

This week’s weather forecasts place Garvin County right in those parts of Oklahoma considered to be at risk of storms or maybe even tornados.

In fact it’s today and Wednesday, April 9-10, that currently predicts the greatest risk of severe weather here.

For officials like Garvin County’s emergency management director Bud Ramming, there’s plenty to do before this type of storm does arrive.

“As long as there is any chance of severe weather we’ll be out there watching,” he said.

With severe weather coming our way the first thing for Ramming is to contact all the people, mostly firefighters, who serve as storm spotters throughout the county.

“We know in advance when there’s the threat of severe weather,” Ramming said. “The National Weather Service alerts us.

“That’s when we alert our storm spotters. They’re out in certain areas of the county and provide information about the storm.

“Sometimes a big storm is countywide so we need people in all parts to feed us information. They alert us of the potentially dangerous weather so we can alert the public.”

He stresses there’s a big difference between a storm spotter, which often goes unnoticed by the public, to the storm chasers often seen on television when they’re following a tornado and providing updates along the way.

“We’re not storm chasers,” Ramming said. “We’re storm spotters. We follow them but not chase them.

“Storm spotters are trained to stay a safe distance away from a tornado after they spot it.”

American Red Cross is also on stand-by to provide assistance when a storm does become severe and possibly carries a damaging or deadly tornado.

“If a community in the county gets hit here we immediately open up a shelter.”

As for the public, the best tip of all is stay informed.

“We don’t know what we’re going to be dealing with until it happens,” he said. “We just want to try to get citizens to stay alert to the weather with the TV reports, radio.”