Weather and Climate

Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Taxing Times For Oklahoma Tornado Survivors

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak speaks at a tax forum for tornado survivors.
Credit Kate Carlton

While many view tax season as a nuisance, it can be especially frustrating for people struggling to rebound from disasters, like the deadly tornadoes that swept through the state last May.  

Some residents of central Oklahoma lost homes, cars and old tax documents, so they’re confused and unsure how to proceed, and that’s left many tornado alley taxpayers with lots of questions. 

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
9:54 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: Poor Construction Techniques Doomed Moore Elementary Schools

Gov. Mary Fallin at Plaza Towers elementary school following the May 20, 2013 Moore, Okla. tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to M. Scott Carter talk about how he first became interested in construction standards at two Oklahoma elementary schools destroyed by the May 20, 2013 Moore, Okla. tornado.

Friday’s edition of The Journal Record reveals improper construction and violation of building codes led to the destruction of two Moore, Okla. elementary schools when a tornado hit May 20, 2013.

KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney talked with the reporter, M. Scott Carter, who obtained a soon-to-be released report showing a shocking lack of standard building practices in both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Experts Say School Tornado Days Could Cause More Harm Than Good

Tornado damaged classroom in the Plaza Towers Elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma. An F5 tornado struck the area on May 20, causing widespread destruction.
Credit Andrea Booher / FEMA

The death of seven students in the tornado that hit Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School last May has ignited an ongoing debate about storm shelters and school safety.

State lawmakers and advocacy groups are calling for better school construction to protect kids from future storms, and some people are now also raising questions about whether they should simply keep their kids home when severe weather is in the forecast. 

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
12:31 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

VIDEO: Lessons From El Reno As NWS Trains New Spotters

The National Weather Service unveiled a new training video Wednesday for storm spotters and chasers with the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the tragedy that followed the May 31, 2013 tornado near El Reno.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:28 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Oil Boom Keeping Western Oklahoma Towns Afloat Amid Worsening Drought

Credit Al Jazeera English / Flickr Creative Commons

Drought and agriculture don’t mix very well. So after three years of intense drought, you might expect rural western Oklahoma communities — where fortunes have traditionally hinged on the condition of wheat crops — to be dying on the vine.

But no. As The Journal Record‘s Brian Brus reports, many of these towns are adapting to a new economy with a little help from the oil and gas industry.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Fallin Introduces Storm Shelter Plan Amid Lawsuit From Shelter Advocacy Group

Governor Mary Fallin tours the Plaza Elementary School site days after the May 20 Moore tornado
Credit The National Guard

In her State of the State address last week, Gov. Mary Fallin discussed her plan to build storm shelters in schools across the state. The speech came the same day a school shelter advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the governor for not promptly responding to its open records request. Fallin’s apparent change of course is not unusual, but its timing has raised some eyebrows.   

When Danni Legg entered the Governor’s office last week, she was looking for answers.

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Tornado
9:44 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Texas, Oklahoma Top Nation's Tornado Numbers

The May 19, 2013 tornado that hit parts of Edmond, Okla.
Credit Mike Prendergast / SkyWatcherMedia.com

Texas and Oklahoma led the nation in the number of tornadoes last year. Oklahoma's 79 was well above the state's average of 57.

Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, told the Tulsa World newspaper the national total of 898 tornadoes was well below normal, which is about 1,000.

Florida, Kansas and Texas typically each have more tornadoes per year than Oklahoma. Texas had 81 last year.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:57 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

How Oklahoma’s Grassland Will Help U.S. Farmers And Foresters React To Climate Change

In an experimental pasture at the Grazinglands Research Laboratory near El Reno, Okla., ecologist Brian Northup collects samples to describe availability and quality of forage.
Credit Stephen Ausmus / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The federal government will use a grassland laboratory near El Reno to research the regional effects of climate change for U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.

The Grazinglands Research Laboratory was picked to be one of the country’s seven “climate hubs,” where federal and state agencies, university scientists and other researchers will generate data to help landowners “adapt and adjust their resource management,” federal officials said in a statement.

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Here & Now
2:32 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Explains New ‘Climate Hubs’

Credit The Italian Voice / Flickr Creative Commons

The Obama administration is proposing today to create seven regional “climate hubs” with the goal of helping farmers and rural communities combat the most serious effects of climate change: drought, floods, pests and fires.

The move is taking place by executive action and will not go to Congress for approval. The hubs will represent a broad swath of the country’s rural regions and will include Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Safe Schools 101 Corrects Misinformation, Trains Professionals For Shelter Builds

FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator Wayne Rickard assesses Northmoor Elementary School during a Safe Schools 101 session.
Credit Christopher Mardorf / FEMA

Ever since a series of deadly tornadoes rattled the state in May, destroying two elementary schools, the idea of building safe rooms has become much more prominent. After all, according to one study released shortly after the storms, more than 60% of Oklahoma’s schools have no shelter at all. Now the Department of Emergency Management is taking steps to fix that. 

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