Oklahoma City has 182 tornado warning sirens located across Oklahoma, Canadian and Cleveland counties. The sirens are activated in each county for which the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning.
The sirens are reactivated each time the National Weather Service issues a new tornado warning, so they may sound more than once. No “all clear” signal is given when the threat has passed.
The siren is your cue to turn on your television, radio or all-hazards alert weather radio to get information about the storm’s location and proper protective actions. Citizens are encouraged to monitor weather conditions until the threat has passed.
Oklahoma City has no designated public storm shelters.
Signs of a Tornado
Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
Whirling dust and or debris on ground underneath cloud base.
Tornadoes do not always have visible funnels – can be rain wrapped.
Hail or heavy rain followed by either absolute calm or extreme wind shift.
Loud continuous roar or rumble unlike thunder that fades within seconds.
Visible small, bright, blue and green to white power flashes at ground level.
Get inside, seek shelter – flying debris is the greatest danger.
Proceed immediately to your basement, storm cellar, safe room or lowest level of building.
If there is no basement, go to the interior most hallway or room without windows (bathroom, pantry, closet).
Stay away from windows and doors.
Get underneath sturdy piece of furniture and cover neck and head.
Mobile Homes are not safe shelters; you should make plans before the storm arrives to get to a pre-planned shelter.
Apartment dwellers should have a plan in place to get to an apartment on the lowest level of the complex and take the basic tornado safety guidelines.
Do not attempt to outrun tornado in your automobile, seek shelter inside a nearby building.
If stranded outside lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from the vehicle, but remain aware of possible flash flooding.
Do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass.
Shelter-in-place safest plan during tornado warnings
Public advised against traveling to shelters
Shelter-in-place: that’s the recommendation of Oklahoma City Emergency Management whose advice to people is to shelter-in-place during tornado warnings.
Shelter-in-place means to take shelter where you are, remaining inside your home, workplace or a nearby building. Most homes provide adequate protection from 98 percent of Oklahoma’s tornados. People who live in trailers or manufactured homes should have a plan to seek shelter in a well- constructed building nearby.
An interior hallway or room without exterior windows and doors on the lowest level of your house is typically the safest place to be during a tornado. If you have a bicycle helmet, or any type of helmet, put it on. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes when you take cover. Shoes will protect your feet if you need to walk through debris.
People who live on the upper level of an apartment building should seek shelter in an apartment on the lowest level of the complex.
Your vehicle is one of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado. Find a business to shelter in. Never seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass. If you are stranded outside, lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from your vehicle.
Personal preparedness limits risk and anxiety. The best thing residents can do to protect themselves against the impact of a tornado is install a safe room or storm shelter in their homes. These shelters are designed to give protection from the forces of extreme winds as high as 250 miles per hour.
Oklahoma City does not have public storm shelters. Public storm shelters may seem like a good idea, but they often come with more risks than benefits to residents.
Oklahoma City has no public buildings that are designed to FEMA guidelines to provide near absolute protection, including protection from an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado.
Opening public buildings as storm shelters only gives you a false sense of security and no more protection that a well-built residential structure.
Traveling to a public storm shelter could put you at greater risk than if you sheltered in place. Your vehicle is one of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado.
Tornadoes can happen at night. If sirens wake you at 2 a.m. you likely won’t have enough time to gather your family, load them into a car and drive to a storm shelter. Sheltering in place affords you the quickest and best protection for a no notice event.
The City doesn’t identify private buildings that open to the public as storm shelters because these buildings aren’t built to FEMA guidelines and because we have no control over whether they open or not.
Oklahoma City has not built public storm shelters because it would be impossible to shelter even a small percentage of the population. If we were to do this, we are required to build enough shelters to hold more than half a million residents.
Having a personal plan and staying informed are the two most critical elements in staying safe during severe weather.
What is a tornado watch?
Issued to specific Counties by the National Weather Service.
Means that the possibility of Tornados exist in your County.
Remain weather alert for approaching severe weather.
Spread the word to family, friends and co-workers.
Turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.
What is a tornado warning?
Issued to specific Counties by the National Weather Service (NWS)
Means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar in your County
Outdoor warning devices will sound if a tornado warning has been issued
Immediately seek shelter in your pre-designated place of safety
Oklahoma City Outdoor Warning Devices will sound in County(s) designated by NWS
Turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for further information / instruction
What to do after a tornado.
Keep family and pets together and wait for Emergency Personnel to arrive
Continue to monitor local TV, radio and or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for further information / instruction
Watch out for fallen power lines, and be aware of broken gas lines.
Stay out of damaged buildings
If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.