Wagoner County Emergency Management Beefs Up Fleet For Storm Chasing

Saturday, April 26th 2014, 6:51 pm
By: News On 6

The chance of severe weather in our area has one county ready to test out its new fleet of cars just for storm chasing.

Three surplus units from the Porter Police Department are now running a different type of radar.

"We installed the iPads in here that have radar on them," Wagoner County Emergency Manager Heath Underwood said. "It also has the spotter network tied into those, so I can actually see where they are."

04/25/2014 Related Story: Severe Storms, Hail, Tornadoes To Threaten NE Oklahoma

The whole point of having the chase vehicles is to not only stay ahead of the storm, but when a storm hits to be the first responders on the ground.

In May 2013, a tornado packing winds up to 135 mph touched down in Broken Arrow and cut a 6-mile path through neighborhoods.

Underwood said his units were slower to respond because the same trucks that pull his disaster response equipment were out chasing the storm.

"This gives the opportunity to break free some other resources and have these strictly for storm spotting," Underwood said.

Underwood said most of his volunteers who drive the chase vehicles are off-duty police officers and firefighters.

The chasers take training courses to be members of the emergency management team.

"This just gives us an eye on the ground to be right there with it," Underwood said. "It gives us a quicker response into the neighborhood as soon as something touches down."

The Wagoner County Emergency Management Storm Spotters will be on standby all weekend long if storms develop.