Ponca City, OK
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Ponca City Emergency Management – Hurricanes In OklahomaFree Access

Maybe you haven’t been aware that Hurricane Season started on June 1. After all, you live in a land-locked state. Hurricanes won’t have any impact here…or will they?

Fairly rare and unstudied up until recently, hurricanes and tropical storms can influence inland weather. The best example of this is Tropical Storm Erin in 2007. When Erin made landfall, it actually strengthened as it moved over land, becoming much stronger than it was over the ocean. In fact, Erin was at its strongest as it traveled across Oklahoma. On August 18, 2007, areas of Oklahoma between Lawton, Kingfisher, and El Reno experienced all of the worst weather conditions associated with a tropical storm. When it was over seven were dead, and the area had seen flooding rain, tornadoes, extremely high winds, and widespread damage and power outages. The outcomes of this storm system were exactly what we see from severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

On June 20, 2017 a very small F0 tornado hit Silver Spring Maryland – so small it was undetected by radar. No Tornado Warning was issued, but the National Weather Service (NSW) there did issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning with damaging winds over 60 mph and very heavy rainfall. Taking shelter was also recommended by the NWS in this warning. The community suffered damage not much different from that created by strong straight-line winds. A tornado can form in any thunderstorm.

What should you take from this? First, never expect severe weather to be predictable. Second, any thunderstorm can develop a tornado, and damaging straight-line winds can cause substantial damage and dangerous debris. For these reasons, taking shelter during a thunderstorm warning is a wise move. And last, no matter how good radar gets, it will never replace the local storm spotters on the ground watching the storms develop.

Capital Weather Gang, of the Washington Post, reported the following on the Silver Springstorm in Maryland, “This serves as a reminder that severe thunderstorm warnings are not just suggestions to get out of the rain. Inherent in that warning is the possibility that a tornado will form. Even without a tornado, severe wind gusts can do exactly the damage we see here in Silver Spring.”

Contact: Paula Cain, Emergency Management Director, 767-0380

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