David Payne, meteorologist for KFOR Channel 4, spoke about the weather conditions that led to multiple tornadoes that hit in Oklahoma on May 24 of last year.
A packed room of students and staff came to hear Payne talk about his experience chasing tornadoes in a speech on campus March 30.
Payne reminded the crowd of the week leading up to that day, as he and his weather team warned citizens of the severe storms on the horizon.
When the day approached, Payne felt the same way he does every time a severe storm hits.
“As the event gets closer and closer, the anxiety starts to build,” Payne said.
When the day finally arrived, the outlook didn’t look good. At one point Oklahoma City was the target of multiple tornadoes.
“Three separate storms were pointing right towards Oklahoma City,” Payne said.
“It was the worst case scenario.”
The storms were so severe that Payne told viewers that getting out of their homes and driving to a safer place was actually one of the best options.
“With a storm like that, if you aren’t able to get underground in a shelter, your best option is to get out before it hits,” Payne said.
Payne told the audience that when driving, going east would always be a safe plan.
With tornadoes as big and as dangerous as the ones on that day, driving away is safer than staying in the home.
There were 11 fatalities on that day
“What drives me is just trying to keep that from happening,” Payne said.
“That’s why we spend all this time and money chasing and finding out about tornadoes: To keep Oklahomans safe.”
Payne also spoke about tornado safety, dispelling certain theories such as opening windows in a house, or going to the southwest corner of the house.
He also told the audience that tornado shelters were worth the cost. Payne said he even promotes sharing with a neighbor to save money while still being safe.
“If you have a neighbor that you like, buy one together, splitting the cost,” Payne said.
“Having a shelter could be the difference in surviving or not.”
Payne, who has been with KFOR Channel 4 since 1993, said that he has always been drawn towards weather, especially severe weather.
“I love weather first and my job second,” Payne said.
Payne took questions from the crowd, addressing the recent earthquakes and the potential for a hot summer.
He predicted the summer would be fairly hot, but due to the recent rain, he doubted that it would be as severe as last summer.
“You can never say never in my business, but it is almost impossible for us to have the heat wave that we had last year,” Payne said.
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