Gustnado
A gustnado, not a true tornado, forms over Oklahoma City. People should prepare for severe weather in advance, so they can concentrate on more important matters when storms hit.

FORT SILL, Okla. (Feb. 27, 2014) -- National Severe Weather Preparedness Week (NSWPW), March 2-8, seeks to increase awareness of severe weather and encourage everyone to know their risks, take action and be an example.

To help everyone at Fort Sill remain aware during times of potential severe weather, the Fort Sill Installation Operations Center working with Air Force weather observers at Henry Post Army Airfield, monitor weather conditions 24/7. Whenever threatening weather develops or may develop, the

IOC sends alerts out to units and organizations on post. Many units and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities also have weather radios.

Furthering the intent to be ready, in January, installation leaders participated in a tornado exercise to review and update plans for coping with severe weather.

Usually, severe weather in Southwest Oklahoma is often associated with tornadoes. However, thunderstorms with damaging wind and golf ball or larger sized hail can also occur along with flash floods. In winter, ice storms and blizzards can grind most business and activity to a halt. Also, in part because of a prolonged drought, Oklahoma's near constant windy conditions can whip the smallest spark into a raging inferno.

Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival, especially so during the threat of severe weather. The deadliest and most destructive tornado of 2013, an

EF-5, roared through Moore, Okla., May 20 and caused more than $2 billion in property damage. Even though severe weather was anticipated days in advance, many people in the impacted areas said they did not have a plan and were caught unprepared.

While spring tends to produce more tornadoes, they're not uncommon in fall. On Nov. 17, a late season tornado outbreak spawned 74 twisters that wreaked havoc in seven Midwest states. That day became the most active tornado day for the entire year.

Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

KNOW YOUR RISK
The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family.

Check weather forecasts regularly, buy a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and learn about wireless emergency alerts.

People should plan a shelter that could best prepare them for the after effects of all types of local hazards.

TAKE ACTION
Before storms strike, develop a family communication plan, create or purchase an emergency supplies kit and participate in a local event April 30 through America's PrepareAthon.

BE AN EXAMPLE
Share your preparedness story with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Letting others know that you're prepared may prompt them to do so as well. Studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe. This is an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others.

Being weather ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to and recover from damages caused by severe weather.

The preparedness week is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and NOAA. To learn more go to www.weather.gov or www.ready.gov.

Page last updated Thu February 27th, 2014 at 00:00