Miami and the four corner area can expect a wet and active spring with more severe thunderstorms, according to Doug Heady, KOAM TV7's chief meteorologist.
Heady, who brought his Sky Watch Weather Tour 2012 to the Miami Civic Center Tuesday night, said the wet spring will be followed by a hot and dry summer. However, he doesn't expect it to be as hot as last summer.
Margaret Jones said she received a lot of information from the show. It was presented in a very enjoyable manner, she said.
Silas Phillips of Miami attended to get educated on how the weather works.
Eddie Hutchinson of Miami, said he came for the weather presentation and because he likes watching Heady.
David Parnell said, I love watching weather programs. It helps me with my work as a fireman.
Melvin Brown with Joplin Pool & Spa said most of the people visiting his booth were interested in the size of swimming pools and their price. He said the above ground pools are the most popular in this area.
Jeff Olsen with Missouri Storm Shelters said people were interested in knowing the difference between shelters that go in the ground and ones that are above ground that can go inside or outside.
He said they have above ground and safe rooms that range in size from 3 feet by five feet up to 8 feet by 20 feet.
Olsen said safe rooms in the basement are growing in popularity.
These rooms don't remain vacant when not in use, Olsen said, as a lot of people like to use it as a panic room or a storage place for important documents.
If people move, the safe rooms can be taken with them and placed in their new home, he said.
Olsen said the cost of installation, certification and sales taxes are included in the price of the safe room. However, there is a transportation charge of less than $100 for Miami area residents.
To start out the evening, Heady showed clips from Jeff Petrowski's video on the May 22, 2011 Joplin, Mo. Tornado to the approximately 250 people present.
He said during his 9 ½ years at KOAM TV 7 he has covered three huge tornadoes May 4, 2003, May 10, 2008 in Picher, and May 22, 2011 in Joplin.
On May 22, Heady said he had gotten his boat out and was waxing it. It was extremely hot and I knew we had a slight chance of some severe weather so went in and checked on the weather. There was nothing too crazy, but it gave me a bad feeling, he said.
By definition, he said, a severe thunderstorm is one that produces one inch hail or larger and/or has winds that equal or exceed 58 mph.
As a result, Heady went back outside and put his tarp back over his boat and put it away, which took about an hour. Then, he posted on his blog that it looks like a tornado watch and went to work even though he normally doesn't work on weekends.
At 3 p.m. May 22, 2011, when he got to work, Heady said nothing was on the ground yet.
As he kept watching, he could see a huge black wall marching across the city. I knew there was a tornado behind it, but couldn't see it, he said. As it got closer, I could see debris and the power poles going down.
The EF-5 tornado with winds in excess of 200 mph that struck Joplin had the highest fatality rate since the Tri-State Tornado in 1925. The 16-mile long tornado killed 161 people.
He said that Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma average 80 tornadoes a year, while Kansas has averaged 124 tornadoes a year over the past five years.
In the four-state area, Heady said 2003, 2008 and 2011 have been the high years for tornadoes. Last year there were 1,688 tornadoes in the United States. However, there were only 17 EF-4 and six EF-5 tornadoes, he said.
Heady said if a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch is issued that means to be on the watch for them. However, if a warning is issued then people need to implement their plan of action.
He told everyone present to take all warnings seriously.
In Joplin, he said the storm sirens blew once alerting people to the tornado, then shut off and then sounded a second time. Each community has its own policy on when and how the storm sirens are blown.
In Miami, Glenda Longan, Emergency Management director, said if the sirens are activated due to threatening weather, there is a steady tone for three minutes.
Should additional sounding be needed due to weather conditions, another steady tone will be issued for three minutes.
She said the city does not sound an all clear.
A lot of people say they can't hear the sirens if they're in their homes. These sirens are only meant to be heard outside. This is why you need to be aware of what is happening to the weather outside, he said.
Heady urged everyone to have a plan of action in case a tornado or severe thunderstorm hits.
He said KOAM TV7 has gone out and got the best radar the Max Storm Tracker so they can see the rotations in the clouds sooner.
As to severe weather myths and facts, Heady said:
Tornadoes are not attracted to mobile homes.
Never take shelter under an overpass while traveling.
Just because Joplin got hit by an EF 5 tornado last year doesn't mean it couldn't be hit again this year.
The bigger the tornado is doesn't mean its strength has grown proportionately.
Anywhere in the 32 counties KOAM TV7 covers in the four states has an equal chance of being hit by a tornado.
Heady reminded those present that while a lot of people are killed by tornadoes, floods kill the most people annually.