The Woodward News

April 7, 2013

Severe weather programs scheduled

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — With the severe weather season upon us, a couple of local events have been scheduled to help the public get prepared.

Matt Lehenbauer, director of the Woodward Office of Emergency Management (WOEM), said a "Weather Radio Day" has been set for April 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Southgate United Supermarket,

"Southgate United has partnered with Midland Radio Co. to program weather radios for free as well as sell weather radios at a discount," Lehenbauer said.

He said you don't have to have a Midland brand weather radio to have it programmed at the event.

"Any weather radio that's brought in, we will check it.  It doesn't matter where you bought it or got it from, if you need help setting it up, we'll take a look at it and program it for you," he said.

Then on April 18, he said WOEM will be hosting a "ReadyWoodward Tornadoes and Tots" event from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Woodward Conference Center.

Lehenbauer said the "Tornadoes and Tots" program is geared toward children 6-years-old and younger.

"We've had a lot of requests from parents whose children either saw the (April 15, 2012) tornado damage or survived through it to have a program to help talk to them about tornadoes," Lehenbauer said.

As part of the children's program, the emergency management director said WOEM staff will read a story about severe weather to the children and then talk to them about tornadoes.  In particular, he said they will talk about "the siren tests we do and why we do them."

"There's a lot of children who are still traumatized," Lehenbauer said, noting the goal of the Tornadoes and Tots program is "to try and help calm some of their fears."

In addition to the 30-minute storytelling and discussion program with the children, he said the Tornadoes and Tots program will also offer some information for parents.

"In the last 30 minutes we'll talk to the parents about the safest way to shelter children that young whether their in a building or automobile," Lehenbauer said.

Additional storm safety information for adults will be shared as part of the ReadyWoodward Weather Awareness and Preparedness Seminar that's also scheduled for April 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Conference Center.

Lehenbauer said the weather seminar will feature a storm spotter training.

"It's not just for people who want to storm chase, but for anyone to be able to look out their window and better identify what's going on weather wise and identify whether it's a situation where they need to be concerned and take shelter," he said.

Then following the training session, Lehenbauer said, "We'll take about 30 minutes to answer questions and go over our new siren system and talk about ways to get weather information on smart phones and computers."

While Woodward has a "new state-of-the-art outdoor warning system" and more storm sirens are being put up in surrounding communities, Lehenbauer said it is important to have multiple notification systems.

"We want to remind people that it's important to have other ways to get warnings so if one method fails they will have a backup," he said.

In addition to suggesting various weather notification apps that people can download on their phones, Lehenbauer said he will also discuss weather radar software that can be used on computers to help track storm systems.

"We will also be programming weather radios that evening as well," he said.

Just as with the Weather Radio Day on April 15, the Tornadoes and Tots program and Weather Awareness and Preparedness Seminar on April 18 are open to the public and free to attend.