There were a few uncertain moments last Tuesday night as a fast-moving weather system swept into the area, triggering a tornado watch in Rogers County. That watch was eventually upgraded to a warning — but the violent system came and went without leaving its mark on the community. It was a welcome reprieve for an area still recovering from the March 30 tornadic storms that caused damage to local homes and other property.
Last Tuesday — as with any day or night when the threat of severe weather exists — the advance warning we received was welcome. And prior to Tuesday, the entire region had been hearing for days about the potential for extreme weather.
There’s been some debate in the days since about that very, very early warning, as some have pointed out that across the central U.S., the weather was bad, but not as bad as some predicted.
In short, while there was large hail in some places, damaging wind in others and a few smaller tornadoes did make their presence felt, the very destructive tornadoes some were anticipating never actually materialized.
In an Associated Press report, Bill Bunting, operations chief at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, said, “We had signals that it could be on the higher end. But each system is different, and (this one) didn’t live up to our expectations.”
Meanwhile, many schools and businesses had, with so much advance warning of severe weather, taken steps to prepare for the worst. As, no doubt, had much of the general populace.
Some have subsequently described the forecast as “a bust.”
While after-the-fact analysis of any process — especially one this important — can be productive, count me among those happy to have as much advance notice as possible, even if the actual weather event falls somewhat short of the warning.
On the subject of notice, Rogers County Emergency Management Director Scotty Stokes spoke to the Daily Progress last week about the Rogers County Emergency Alert Program, which, he said, provides warnings to registered users in the event of severe weather. Residents can register by visiting www.rogerscounty.org, selecting “Emergency Management” from the “Departments” drop-down menu, and clicking on “Rogers County Emergency Alert Program.”
It’s another tool in the ever-growing toolbox we can all access to give ourselves and our families as much notice as possible of severe weather.
Mark Twain is famously credited with saying, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” I’ve lived in five states, none of them in New England, and in each place I’ve heard some version of that remark from someone. More than a century after the author’s death, his literary witticism had become just another weather-related cliché — one of many.
But it’s no coincidence so many weather-related clichés exist, especially those related to conditions turning on a dime. Few things can have as big an impact on our lives as severe weather, especially when it arrives on our doorstep with little or no warning.
Weather prediction is still a somewhat inexact science. While I can understand the frustrations of those who feel they over-mobilized last week, when the weather wasn’t as bad as predicted, I wouldn’t use a word like “bust” to describe such a welcome development.
When it comes to the people and systems that monitor severe weather, especially weather that could produce tornadoes, the more warning the better.
John Dilmore is editor and publisher of the Claremore Daily Progress. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.