The Woodward News

Local News

April 6, 2013

Severe weather possible in area

Woodward, Okla. — The Woodward area could be facing its first round of springtime severe weather in the next couple days.

Matt Lehenbauer, director of Woodward Office of Emergency Management (WOEM), said there is a chance of storms Sunday through Tuesday, with the greatest likelihood of severe weather occurring Monday night.

"For Sunday there's a slight possibility of severe weather," Lehenbauer said.  "But we're not really anticipating any severe storms on Sunday though because it looks like there will be conditions that could inhibit storm formation."

He noted that "storms have to have lift and convection for clouds to form," with convection being created by warm air rising through the atmosphere.

However, on Sunday, he said "it looks like we'll have a cap on temperature inversion in the upper atmosphere."  The cap, he said, "is a layer of cooler air that will stop the warm air from rising."

Also inhibiting possible storm formation on Sunday, Lehenbauer said, is that "there doesn't appear like there will be a lot of moisture in the air on Sunday."

That is why the WOEM director said that he is "looking more to Monday" for the possibility of severe weather.

The time of greatest concern, he said is "after supper from about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. until about midnight.  That's when we expect scattered thunderstorms to fire."

However no squall line is expected, which makes it difficult to try and forecast where the storms might hit, Lehenbauer said, since any storms that develop will likely be isolated.

"Tuesday there will be a little bit better chance for storms, but it looks like it will shift a little bit to the east," and possibly will miss Northwest Oklahoma, he said.

Then on Tuesday night "a cold front will come through and increase our chances for more areas of rainfall on Wednesday," Lehenbauer said.  "And we'll have cooler temps, going from the 70s on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and dropping to the 50s on Wednesday."

However, a lot of unknowns remain concerning the approaching storm system, from where and when the storms will hit to how much rainfall they will bring.

"We can't say there's going to be blanketed rainfall across the area on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, because the storms are not expected to be widespread.  But we could see some moderate areas of rainfall with some isolated storms," he said.

Since the approaching weather system is going to be so unpredictable, Lehenbauer said that area residents should be on alert through mid-week.

"Monday is the day we're most concerned about for this area, but we could see some isolated severe weather on Tuesday as well," he said.

These severe weather chances include "the potential for hail, high winds, and even tornadoes somewhere in Oklahoma.  We can't focus it to Northwest Oklahoma, but there is the definite possibility (for tornadic activity) somewhere in Western Oklahoma that day (Monday)," he said.

Area residents should be taking time this weekend to make sure they are prepared for the possibility of severe weather.

"This will be the first possibility of a severe weather event this spring, so people will need to make sure their storm shelters, cellars or basements are ready to go," Lehenbauer said.  "They should have their emergency plan in place and continue to monitor weather conditions because things could all change in the next couple days."

But the emergency manager said his most important preparedness tip is to "make sure you have a way to receive weather warnings as they come out, such as through a NOAA weather radio."

Having multiple notification systems as a backup is recommended as well, he said.

"The best thing to do is to have a text message based system so that you'll receive a text directly to your phone when a warning is issued," Lehenbauer said.

He recommended visiting www.ok.gov/notifications, which is "an official government site" where you can sign up to receive weather notifications for up to 5 counties.

There are also several weather-related apps that are available for download to your smart phone to help keep you informed of changing weather conditions.

"The best app that I've found for both iPhone and Android phones is 'RadarScope,'" Lehenbauer said.  "It's just for watching conditions on radar, but it's the best out there that I can find."

The emergency manager said he will be sharing more about RadarScope and other weather apps during his upcoming Weather Awareness and Preparedness Seminar on April 18.

"We will go through the apps in more detail and teach people how to read them to get the best information out of them," he said.

Look in the Sunday edition of The News for more information about the preparedness seminar and other upcoming weather programs.

Lehenbauer said that area residents can also subscribe to his office's "Ready Woodward" Facebook page.

"I'll be updating all weekend, if conditions change, on our Facebook account and through broadcast media if I need to," he said.

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