Now is a good time to go over safety plans for severe weather, whether tornadoes develop in the next few days or not, a National Weather Service meteorologist said Thursday.
Severe storms are expected Friday along a dry line in western Oklahoma, with the threat spreading into central and northern Oklahoma after dark. Supercells with very large hail and a few tornadoes are expected, said Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist at the Weather Service's Norman office.
“Saturday will be the big severe weather day, but the exact details will depend a lot on what happens with the storms Friday night and into Saturday morning,” Smith said. “We can see the big pieces of the puzzle coming together, but there's still uncertainty about how the small pieces will fit together. If things come together just right, we could see a significant severe weather event with lots of storms and the potential for dangerous supercells, tornadoes and large hail.”
But, he added, it was too early Thursday afternoon to be much more specific than that.
“The outlooks will change and become more refined as we get closer,” Smith said, adding that people need to plan for the possibility of severe weather on Saturday.
The threat of storms and tornadoes was enough to force the postponement of at least one event over the weekend.
The annual Beer Sprocket festival — a beer and food-tasting event to benefit the Rotary Club of East Oklahoma County — was scheduled to begin Saturday afternoon at Choctaw Creek Park.
Festival organizer Mike Turek, who also stages the annual Choctaw Oktoberfest, said he didn't want to risk putting event attendees in danger. The festival has been rescheduled for May 12.
“On a one-day event like this, you're better off just postponing,” Turek said.
The annual Redbud Classic is also scheduled over the weekend. The event includes cycling Saturday morning and running races Sunday afternoon.
Redbud public relations coordinator Suzanne Chew said participants should expect races to go off as planned.
“We are going to move forward ... unless the weather is so severe that we feel like the elements are a danger to our participants,” Chew said.
In that case, she said, participants should check the Redbud website — www.redbud.org — for details.
Chew said organizers are hopeful they can finish Saturday morning's cycling events before inclement weather can move in.
Smith said one of the most important things residents can do is stay informed about what's expected. Outlooks and forecasts will change several times between now and when the storms happen.
“Don't get too hung up on words like outbreak, moderate risk, etc.,” he said.
“(National Weather Service) meteorologists are on duty 24 hours a day and will be providing the most up-to-date and detailed information possible. There's still quite a bit of uncertainty about what's going to happen, so this is not a time to panic, but a time to prepare.”
Smith said it's important to have multiple ways to receive ongoing weather information, in case power goes out or in case residents are at an event and not at work or at home.
“Now is the time to think ahead and make your plans,” Smith said. “Taking a few minutes to do that now can make a huge difference if you need to make those critical decisions later.”