Drivers beware when storms are near

Thursday, May 8th 2008, 8:31 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

When severe weather rolls into Oklahoma, some drivers ditch the steering wheel and hide out under overpasses, but that may not be the safest place to find shelter.

Eric Thurman, owner of ET's Barbeque, and at least a dozen other people took shelter inside his restaurant during Wednesday's storm, he said.

"We had a few customers run in just to get in to get off the road," Thurman said.

NEWS 9 Chief Meteorologist Gary England said taking shelter is the best thing to do during severe weather.

"When you're driving to work, take a good look at all the places that might be a good tornado shelter," England said.

According to experts like England, the last place a person should be during a tornado is inside a vehicle. Instead, they suggest getting to an area where the person can lay low.

"You get to the ditch, or the creek, the lowest lying area and get down. Cover up your face and head as best you can," England said.

Hiding under an overpass does not shield people from strong winds or flying debris during a tornado, England said.

When 'Mother Nature' takes its course, it's a natural to reach for a cell phone and try to call loved ones.

"It's not uncommon for cell phone circuits to become overloaded and busy and not be able to get through," said Sgt. Frank Barnes from the Department of Emergency Management, Oklahoma City office. 

Barnes urges people to keep the lines open.

"As a first responder, we would ask the public not to use their cell phones unless it's an emergency," Barnes said.

When a disaster strikes, they recommend having a family plan.

With the unpredictable weather, England said the best thing to do is be aware of what's going on with the weather.