Severe weather plans are in place for Thunder, Barons games in Oklahoma City

The Thunder and the Barons are both gearing up for playoff runs. But playoff time in Oklahoma City is right in the middle of tornado season. There are plans in place at both arenas in case severe weather occurs during a game.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: April 14, 2012

What if the thunder outside a Thunder game was accompanied by a tornado?

Oklahoma City's NBA franchise seems primed for postseason appearances every year for the foreseeable future. Their neighbors across the street, the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, are about to embark on their own playoff run.

Parts of the regular season and playoffs of both sports are right in the middle of tornado season in Oklahoma, so there are likely to be lots of chances for years to come for severe weather to cause a problem during a home game. But there are plans in place to protect fans and participants if bad weather is on the way.

“We're going to keep everybody away from glass or places where you could be injured, and put you in the safest place we can get you,” said Tim Linville, a spokesman for SMG, which operates the city-owned Chesapeake Energy Arena and Cox Convention Center.

Strong buildings equipped with strong shelters

Given plenty of warning, there are shelter areas at both arenas where people can go, Linville said. In the Cox Center, fans can evacuate quickly to the below-ground parking garage without leaving the building. The Chesapeake Energy Arena has underground shelter areas for people in the lower levels and stairwell shelters for those in the upper level.

Staff at both arenas train once per year on evacuation plans.

With short notice, arena staff will move people who are near glass or in the immediate outside vicinity of the arena to concourses or the main arena bowls, away from parts of the buildings with glass, Linville said. Most fans can simply stay put.

That's what happened during an Alanis Morissette and Matchbox 20 concert at the arena in March 2008. Fans were encouraged to get to interior parts of the building during a severe storm, and the show didn't miss a beat, Linville said.



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