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Tornado safety and preparedness

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 8:13 PM CST
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TEXOMA, Okla. (TNN) - Severe weather season is upon us and many of us have storm stories from years past. It’s important to be prepared for this storm season to ensure that you don’t get caught off guard by severe weather.

Strong winds, flooding, and hail are the elements of strong thunderstorms that we see in Texoma during severe weather season.

But it’s the threat of powerful tornadoes that could alter your life, and the preparation starts now.

Although some seasons are calmer than others, Trey Bell knows that it only takes one storm to change everything.

“I’m actually from Moore so we have experienced a tornado several times in my hometown,” Bell said.

He’s seen it all, from tornadoes causing minimal damage, to the devastating EF-5 Moore tornado on May 20, 2013 that took 24 lives.

“I heard what I thought were the sirens outside going off. The skies outside over the past several minutes had gotten really dark and ominous and then another classmate of mine spoke up and said are those the tornado sirens, is that what I’m hearing?” said Bell.

But nothing can prepare you for the worst. It wasn’t long before the magnitude of what had happened became apparent.

“So I knew that severe weather was coming and I really in the past hadn’t been afraid of weather but during this event I would say was the first time I was scared of what was happening with the weather and its events, not knowing if your family was safe, not knowing if your home was still there when you came out of the school, or not knowing if you were going to come out of the school. At one point the tornado was very close to Moore High School,” said Bell.

His experience is something many Oklahomans know. Sheltering somewhere away from home is full of unknowns and anxieties. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rick Smith advises people to be weather aware in advance to avoid getting caught in a dangerous situation.

“We would hope that people would try to avoid being caught in the situation of being away from home when a tornado warning is issued. We know that’s not always possible but we certainly want people to think about severe weather before it happens,” Smith said.

If you are out on a severe weather day, Smith says it is important to have at least three ways to get weather alerts.

“You have to do your best to find that sturdy shelter, find a sturdy building, and obey or follow those same guidelines that we always talk about. Getting inside, getting as low as you can, and covering up,” he said.

The Moore tornado is just one day that illuminates the importance of storm warnings and preparedness.

“I think there became more of an emphasis on considering closing school if a very high- end severe weather day is forecast also I do know that many of the Moore schools now, if not all of them at this point, now have storm shelters on location,” said Bell.

Although not everyone sees these destructive beasts every year, it only takes one to change a life. You can never be too prepared for severe weather.

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