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Have several ways to get Oklahoma severe weather information this weekend, National Weather Service meteorologist says

Art, music and sports are among numerous events expected to draw thousands outside Saturday and Sunday in central Oklahoma.

And although forecasts from the National Weather Service have scaled back the threat of tornadoes, the possibility remains, as does the potential for large hail and damaging winds.

With that, Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, says that while the public should not be fearful, people should be watchful.

Smith said that while people may have plans in case severe weather occurs while they are at home, they also need to know what they will do if they are at an outdoor event or activity.

“You have to know what you’re going to do in every situation,” Smith said. “It doesn’t require being obsessive about it, it just requires thinking for two minutes, ‘OK, if there’s a storm here at the ballpark, what am I going to do? Where am I going to go?’”

Isolated or widely scattered thunderstorms initially may develop late Saturday afternoon and into the early evening hours across portions of western north Texas and southwestern and western Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms could then move northeast and east Saturday night and into early Sunday across portions of central Oklahoma. The threat of severe weather is expected to shift eastward during the day Sunday to east of Interstate 35 by the afternoon.

The storms could bring large hail up to baseball size and damaging winds over 70 mph. The potential for tornadoes remains, including through the night, Smith said.

“I think late in the afternoon on Saturday out in far western Oklahoma is where things are going to get kicked off,” he said. “I think for here in central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City metro area, most of our concerns are going to happen after dark and even into the early morning hours on Sunday.”

Plans for marathon

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, though marathon staff will work with meteorologists and emergency officials to determine whether the race should be delayed or canceled, according to a news release.

In the case of severe weather that causes a delay, marathon officials have identified on their website — — three places participants can take shelter.

“I’m afraid it’s still looking kind of stormy for Sunday morning,” Smith said. “I would think rain would be a really good bet and depending on exactly how the timing works out it’s not out of the question we could have thunderstorms, potentially even severe thunderstorms, going on at least for parts of the race. I think what we’re going to see is thunderstorms moving into central Oklahoma after dark Saturday and maybe continuing into the overnight hours.

“There’s the potential to even see a second wave of storms develop very late Saturday night, early Sunday morning. So, I think people associated with the marathon, whether you’re running, whether you’re an organizer, whether you’re just attending, you really need to keep up with later forecasts.”

Smith said that is true not only for those at the marathon, but everyone, whether they plan to be inside or outside Saturday and Sunday. Other outdoor weekend events include the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, the Norman Music Festival and Oklahoma City RedHawks baseball.

“Ultimately everybody is responsible for their own safety. The weather service is here to help, the TV stations are here to help ... but we can’t do it alone,” Smith said. “You are responsible for your safety so you have to have that plan and take action when the time comes.”

Bryan Painter

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