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May 29, 2014

Go to the right source for severe weather information

NORMAN — It is one thing to have an emergency plan and stand ready to execute it in case strong storms develop, but how do you get in the know when severe weather threatens?

Knowing the best options for getting a reliable read on conditions increases the chances of you and your family safely riding out potentially dangerous storms.

Thanks to technology, there are so many ways to track the weather these days. You just have to be smart about selecting credible sources that offer the most accurate details.

Perhaps not surprisingly, studies show that local commercial television broadcasts are the most common way families learn about severe weather watches and warnings, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Commercial radio stations also are a popular source of real-time weather information. However, an equally reliable, but far less used, option for tracking severe weather is a battery-operated weather radio.

Research shows that 5 to 10 percent of people own weather radios, but they are incredibly effective, especially in the overnight hours or when you are in a remote location. A weather radio, along with extra batteries, should be an essential item in your emergency disaster kit.

Beyond the more traditional sources of weather information, cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices also can be helpful in surveying the severe weather landscape. For instance, the National Weather Service provides timely updates via its website, weather.gov, app and social media platforms.

Some local news stations also will post up-to-date weather information online and share details via various social media outlets.

Warning sirens are another source of critical weather information. They are designed to alert anyone outdoors that potentially hazardous weather is nearby. It is important to know when the sirens are activated in your area because each community’s policies can be different. Take cover immediately if you hear sirens, and do not try to outrun the storm.

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