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OU meteorologist offers tips about weather awareness after EF2 tornado in Norman

Damaged house

Damaged house after a tornado touched down in Norman Sunday night on Feb. 27.

After an EF2 tornado touched down in Norman Sunday night, a university meteorologist in the OU Department of Campus Safety provided tips on weather preparedness in case of inclement weather. 

Kevin Kloesel said the weather in central Oklahoma has always drawn meteorologists and researchers from all over the world, and it’s the main reason there is a National Weather Center in Norman. 

“At the same time, it means that we have to be planning for every imaginable weather outcome for our campus and for the safety of and it's not just students, staff (and) faculty, but visitors as well,” Kloesel said. 

Many residents criticized Norman apartments for not having a proper shelter during Sunday night’s storm. However, Kloesel said with the exception of mobile homes, staying at home during a storm in the innermost room is the best place to weather a tornado. 

“If you were indoors away from windows, you were perfectly safe where you were,” Kloesel said. “Same is true for the people who've had really major damage to some of (their) homes. If you were inside in an interior room away from windows, you are safe. Your house wasn’t, but you were.” 

Across Norman, damages included fallen power lines, ripped-up roofs and sides of buildings  and debris coating streets and neighborhoods. Residents also reported homes being torn apart. 

Part of Kloesel's job, he said, is monitoring weather on campus at all times. He said the department uses various ways of communicating, namely through social media. When a warning should be issued, OU uses the Rave system, which sends emergency alerts to the OU community. 

Kloesel said the department works with translators so the language in the alerts can be readily translated by most translation software. Additionally, to expand awareness for when storms are eminent, Kloesel said the City of Norman has an emergency management page where residents can sign up for emergency alerts through the city. 

“There were four different ways of getting that information simultaneously on Sunday night, whether you were using City of Norman or University of Oklahoma, or just being aware of the sirens,” Kloesel said.  “We try with enough redundancy to try and hit every phone that we can.”  

Ultimately, Kloesel said the most important thing Norman residents can learn from situations like Sunday’s storms or the ice storm in October 2020, is to be weather aware. 

“That's one of the things we continue to try and stress when we go to student organizations, faculty meetings, Staff and Faculty Senate, athletics with trainers, you name it,” Kloesel said. “We try to socialize that we are in an area of the world where weather awareness is important and it should be a daily thing, just like going to the library or studying or eating and drinking. Weather awareness is absolutely key.”

This story was edited by Alexia Aston, Karoline Leonard and Jazz Wolfe.

senior news reporter

Taylor Jones is a journalism junior and senior news reporter at the Daily. She started at the Daily in the fall of 2020 and has previously served as a news reporter. She is originally from Anna, Texas.  

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