“Storm Ready’’ program offers safety tips for severe weather

Rick Smith of the National Weather Service makes a graphic point about the dangers of lightning during Wednesday’s Storm Ready presentation at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Rick Smith of the National Weather Service makes a graphic point about the dangers of lightning during Wednesday’s Storm Ready presentation at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s “Storm Ready” presentation Wednesday afternoon was both informative and enlightening.

Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, delivered a powerpoint presentation that featured graphics of actual tornadoes and their aftermath.

Smith said tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms and the best protection is simply —  Get In! Get Down! Cover Up!

“It’s not a matter of if we will have tornadoes in Oklahoma, it’s when,’’ Smith said.  “They are most common from March to June, but can occur any day of the year. I tell people that tornado season is from January 1 to December 31.’’

Approximately 50 people watched and listened as Smith urged everyone to take cover when thunder, lightning or hail are present. He said it is never wise to try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.

A storm shelter or safe room is the best bet if available. Otherwise, he advised to  seek shelter on the lowest floor of a building, in a closet or room without windows or outside walls. Use layers for protection, including helmets of any kind, blankets, comforters, sleeping bags, etc.

Smith said the best advice is to have a plan in place in case of bad weather. Know in advance what you will do and how you will do it. Be prepared with battery-powered weather radios, first aid kits and sturdy clothing.

Also providing information during the two-hour program, held in Southeastern’s newly-renovated Ballroom, were James Dalton, director of the Durant/Bryan  County Emergency Management Office,  and Stacy Ballew, Southeastern chief of police.

The audience included University staff and students as well as community members.

This program was part of the ongoing Southeastern Organization Leadership Development (SOLD) series at the University.

Southeastern to host “Storm Ready’’ weather presentation with National Weather Service, Bryan County Emergency Management

DURANT, Okla. – With the potential of stormy spring weather just around the corner, Southeastern Oklahoma State University is teaming up with the National Weather Service and Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management Office for an informational presentation.

The “Storm Ready’’ presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20, from 2-4 p.m. in the Southeastern Ballroom. The University community, area school officials, and the general public are encouraged to attend.

Presenters include Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Norman, Oklahoma, and James Dalton, director of the Durant/Bryan  County Emergency Management office.

Among the topics to be covered are outdoor emergency warning devices, shelters, cloud and storm recognition, and storm safety tips. Videos of actual tornadoes will also be shown. A question-and-answer session will conclude the program.

Based in the Norman NWS office, Smith leads a team of forecasters who help train severe storm spotters throughout the office’s 56-county area of responsibility. He also works closely with the media, emergency managers and other state, county and local government officials to ensure that communities in central and western Oklahoma and western north Texas are ready when hazardous weather threatens.    Smith began his National Weather Service career as a student volunteer/student trainee at the Memphis office. Upon graduation, he  became a meteorologist intern, and in 1997 was selected as a forecaster at the NWS office in Tulsa.

In 1999, Smith was chosen to fill the newly-developed performance and evaluation meteorologist position at Southern Region Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2002, he moved to Norman to serve in his current position.

Dalton, a Bryan County native, has served in his current position in emergency management since 2006.  A graduate of the Northeastern State University Certified Emergency Manager Program, he is a Certified Oklahoma Emergency Manager, member of the Oklahoma Disaster Task Force, and member of the Oklahoma Disaster Task Force Planning Committee for Disaster Sheltering.

 

He also holds an associate’s degree in Applied Science — Respiratory Therapy from Rose State College.

Dalton  served as the original Chairman/Administrator of the Bryan County Ambulance Authority in 1981, which established the current Bryan County Emergency Medical Service. He has assisted the Durant Police Department since 1993 in various capacities, currently as a Crisis Negotiator for the SRT (Special Response Team).
Among the disasters he has worked are the Murrah Bombing in Oklahoma City and the Tushka, Oklahoma, tornado in 2011.
This program is part of the ongoing Southeastern Organization Leadership Development (SOLD) series at the University.