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5 types of Oklahomans and how they react to tornado season

by Richard Hall Modified: April 25, 2013 at 9:10 am •  Published: April 25, 2013

Disclaimer: This is meant to be fun, and not meant to poke fun at the serious nature of severe weather in our state. As always, stay vigilant and safe this season.


Oh, man — tornado season is here, and as much as we all might love the fine state of Oklahoma, we can all agree we could do without the twisters.

As we gear up to take precautions and make sure we’re ready for what the springtime has in store for us, we’ll run into a handful of people who have unique reactions to the season and the severe weather it can bring.

People like…

5. The storm chaser

Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman
Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman

We all know these kinds of people: They get a thrill out of hunting storms, and sometimes they spend a lot of money on equipment that helps them stay informed and safe while they set out on their quests.

But, in a way, they’re like the dog in “Up,” in that they will completely drop everything and anything they’re doing if there’s a storm coming.

Call them brave, call them reckless: The honest truth is everyone, including the scientific community, benefits from what they do. They’re often some of the closest eyes and ears to the activity, so the information they relay back to meteorologists and citizens is invaluable.

Take Reed Timmer, for example. He’s an OU graduate student who has spent a majority of his adult life chasing storms of all kind, all so we can learn more about them. He chased the May 3, 1999, storms that pretty much leveled Moore, Okla. He chased Katrina. He chased Sandy. He’ll be the first to admit, at times, he’s been reckless, but that he’s learned from his mistakes and improves his tactics as a result.

Reed Timmer just doing what he does. (Photo provided)
Reed Timmer just doing what he does. (Photo provided)

Timmer, however, doesn’t call himself an expert at anything. Not yet, at least, as he leaves that to, well, actual experts.

And you know where this is headed: We all know people who claim to be…

4. The “weather expert”

Oy, the “weather expert.” It’s that person who has a weather radio, some apps and a TV, and they think they know it all. They basically regurgitate what they read and hear elsewhere, and try to pass it off as something they’ve deduced with their amateur sleuth-like skills.

On one hand, it’s hilarious, because you can typically see right through these people.

On the other hand, it’s dangerous.

I actually know a handful of these kinds of people, and some of them have gotten to the point where they begin to “predict” weather shifts and patterns, all based on previous storms. The thing is, their predictions are usually horrible, and horribly wrong. This is where it gets dangerous, because if these self-proclaimed “experts” share their predictions like it’s fact, it can put others in danger.

That’s why everyone should stick to the sources they can trust: Your favorite meteorologist, the National Weather Service, the various established weather Web sites, and so on. Credibility is key when it comes to sidestepping the know-it-alls.

And let’s be real here: Sometimes these know-it-alls can really get people going. People like…

3. The worrywart

The worrywart is his/her own worst enemy. The weather service can say storms are possible, and the worrywart will hear that as “you best take cover now because it’s coming right for YOU AND IT WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE YOU HOLD DEAR IN THIS LIFE!”

Don’t get me wrong: It’s perfectly OK to worry. In order to be vigilant, you have to worry. But sometimes worrying can be detrimental to the desired goals of having a level head in order to deal with crummy weather.

Worrying can lead to irrational behavior, and even cause physical reactions, like shaking. And if it’s allowed to get out of hand, worrying can lead to the “fight or flight” response. Usually, when it comes to weather, it’s the fact that uncertainty is the only certain thing that causes chronic worrying. And, with things like tornadoes that can strike at any moment with little-to-no warning, chronic worrying might become a seasonal way of life for some Oklahomans.

Calming a worrier takes patience and skill, and since every situation is unique, there’s no real “general” way to do this.

Sometimes, though, the worrywart will come up with his/her own way of dealing with the stress. And, sometimes, that wart becomes…

2. The prepper

Hey, someday, that toilet paper might be worth more than gold. Especially if it has the fancy floral designs on it.
Hey, someday, that toilet paper might be worth more than gold. Especially if it has the fancy floral designs on it.

The insanely popular show “Doomsday Preppers” takes us into the world of prepping, where men, women and children prepare for disasters big and small.

In response to these possible world-changing situations, some people live underground. Some have thousands of pounds of food hidden away. Some stock up on weapons and ammunition, just in case.

While I’ve never personally met a prepper who is prepping for a world-devastating tornado, I know plenty of people who have “bugout” bags they grab and locations they head to if the weather gets too snippy.

Most of the time these are simple tornado shelters, often built on the person’s property. The shelter might have important papers, some clothing and food, and a weather radio inside, ready to go.

Just think of it as a Hobbit hole.
Just think of it as a Hobbit hole.

And that’s awesome — personally, it’s what every Oklahoman should do if they have the means to do so. There have been too many times when a shelter has saved countless lives for us to not take notice of their positive effect.

Plus, they’re usually pretty cheap, and some cities and counties even give tax credits to households that have one installed. Also, be a good neighbor if you can: If you have a shelter and the room for more people, let the family next door know they’re welcome, just in case.

There’s a prepper in all of us, because we realize we can’t afford not to be prepared for any given situation. Sometimes, though, we run into people who just don’t care, are blissfully ignorant and, overall, lackadaisical. We call them…

1. The nonchalant

Click to enlarge.

The nonchalant is that person who, upon hearing a tornado is in their neighborhood, goes out onto their front porch to film it or snap photos of it.

The nonchalant is that person who, though they know the crushing effect a tornado can have, sits at home without a plan or care in the world. Kind of like this person:

Yeah, it makes for great video and photos, but are you out of your mind?

Who knows what makes some people apathetic toward severe weather, because I don’t. It could be laziness, or it could be the warped idea that they consider themselves to be invincible. Since I don’t think many people are that arrogant, I’ll go with the former excuse.

But, hey, live and let live. If someone wants to stand a few blocks from an EF3 tornado, iPhone in-hand, just so they can be the first to upload footage to YouTube or Instagram, so be it. Just remember you can’t upload a dang thing if you’re dead.

by Richard Hall
Digital Media Specialist
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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