OU Creates Weather Plans for Every Campus Event

Oklahoma University’s campus events are always monitored by a safety coordinator ready to begin an emergency response plan if necessary.

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has instituted a policy whereby every campus event held outdoors has a comprehensive event emergency response plan. Each event emergency plan has a thorough weather component that ensures for real-time weather monitoring, and sets predetermined actions for various weather hazards.

The event emergency response plan mandates that a safety coordinator be onsite during the event. The safety coordinator is in contact with the university meteorologist if hazardous weather threatens. If the weather risk is great, the university meteorologist is also onsite at the event. All weather plans and potential weather decisions and actions are discussed ahead of time so that event organizers can be trained on what to do if severe weather occurs.

Read more from Dr. Kevin Kloesel on the constant severe-weather threat here.

Each campus event at OU has contingencies for the weather risks of lightning, wind, hail, extreme temperatures (both hot and cold), precipitation and tornadoes. For lightning, OU aims to have all event participants in adequate shelter prior to lightning reaching an 8-mile distance from the event. For winds, OU uses wind speed values that correspond to the ratings of any temporary structures or inflatables in use at the event. If hail of any size is anticipated, the event is halted.

RELATED: Weather Warning: Deadly Tornado Clusters More Frequent

Due to the typical characteristics of severe thunderstorms, the lightning criterion is usually acted upon prior to any hail decision. Extreme temperatures are also monitored for the purposes of determining whether heating or cooling stations are needed for participants of events. Wind chill temperature values are monitored in extreme cold situations, and Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is used for extreme heat situations. Precipitation is also monitored since many outdoor events serve food that could be ruined in rain, or have inflatables or electrical equipment that cannot be operated in rain.

A tornado risk would require the event organizers to have a plan to get participants to a severe weather refuge area with plenty of time to spare before the tornado arrived.

Dr. Kevin Kloesel is the university meteorologist for the University of Oklahoma’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.

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