The number one cause of weather-related deaths is from people driving into high waters on the road and getting swept away, said meteorologist David Payne in a speech on campus earlier this month. He said being washed away by high water kills more people than the combination of hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, and hail,
Payne, Emmy Award winning meteorologist for News 9, talked about how best to stay safe in Oklahoma’s ever-changing weather season.
Payne said too many drivers are unaware of the dangers of flooded streets.
“Most people don’t realize It takes only two feet of moving water to sweep a car off the road.”
He said it is better to go a mile out of your way to avoid having to drive through water.
When a person in the audience asked Payne why the city of Moore continued getting hit, he said that there is no good data on why Moore has been struck so often by tornadoes.
He said it has nothing to do with any rivers, elevation or hills.
“Tornadoes could care less what’s going on on the ground,” Payne said. “Everything in a tornado is all aloft, it’s ten to forty thousand feet up.”
“What’s been slightly out of character is that the tornadoes that they have had, have been very violent tornados…,” Payne said, while reminding the audience that scientists have only been taking good data on tornados since the late ‘50s and ‘60s. Payne said every year and every season, tornado “hot spots” shift and that he believes it would be shifting within the next few years.
One audience member, Keisha Williams, said Payne gave some advice she will pay attention to.
Williams is the state coordinator for the Single Mothers Academic Resource Team program. She said that her biggest take-away from the session was to shelter at home during a tornado.
“I learned to not get in the car and try to leave when a tornado is coming,” Williams said, “because most people want to leave their homes.”
That leaves drivers vulnerable to being caught in a car in a traffic during a storm, she said.
Payne said that tornadoes are so unpredictable that there is no way to know where the tornado is going. He said it can change directions in a matter of minutes. Payne described cars as toys to a tornado.
However, Payne said, when it comes to lightning, you are safe inside your vehicle.
“Your tires are not what keep you safe,” he said. “It’s the fact that you are inside a metal car.” The lightning that touches your car will wrap itself around the car, keeping you safe inside.
For more information, contact Payne through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through phone at 405-843-6641, or online at www.News9.com.
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