With winter in the rear view mirror, it’s time to get excited about spring at Grand Lake.

It’s also time to remind ourselves that severe weather season is here, and you better make sure you have a plan in place for those exciting afternoons and evenings and overnights when the Grand Lake weather gets bumpy.

Remember, it was just short of 3 years ago when the Cleora area experienced a destructive tornado first hand – the same day as the catastrophic Joplin tornado – and so despite what you want to think, the fact is it can, has and will again happen at Grand Lake.

Quick sidenote – Kudos to the folks who have raised the funds for a tornado siren in the Cleora area…good for you!

Anyway, most of you that live here full time (Grand Lake Living!) already have a good storm safety plan in place, and that’s a good thing. This is the time of year to review that and make sure everyone in your family – especially the kids – know what to do when a dangerous storm is heading your way.

Grand Lake Tornado Damage

It’s amazing with all the destruction that there was no loss of life from the 2011 Grand Lake tornado.

There’s a big number of you reading this that also just come to the lake part-time…whether you own a lake home or come to visit regularly…whatever it may be.

And for those of you who are part-timers at Grand Lake, it’s important that you have a plan as well.

I have talked to a handful of people who are second home-owners around the lake and been surprised to find out that many have storm safety plans at home, but nothing really in place at the lake home.

So anyway, here are a few reminders, with a hat tip to the fine folks at www.tornadotitans.com, who got this conversation rolling a couple of weeks ago.

  • Make sure you have a severe weather plan in place. This is from the DUH department. But, do it. Don’t just think about it. Do it. What are you waiting for? Having a plan means you and your family stay safe when dangerous storms are coming our way.

  • Part of having a plan includes having a designated tornado safe place. Everybody knows where to go and, this is important, make sure your neighbors and friends know where you go as well. And, check your spot (if it’s a basement or shelter) on days when storms are expected to make sure it’s dry, easily accessible…all that kind of stuff.

  • Remember that lightning and flooding are just as dangerous as tornados. Take every severe weather threat seriously. And for gawds sake people, pay attention when you are getting out on the lake for the day to the threat of storms developing. Have you ever been caught out on the lake in a lighting storm? It’s not fun. Don’t ask how I know.

  • Now here is some new stuff that maybe you haven’t thought about, but always have TWO sources of potential breaking weather information. With smartphones and tablets in just about every home and vehicle, get yourself a weather app that gives severe weather alerts, and get a reliable whether radio, and you can still count on the TV and radio as well. There you go, that’s 3 sources right there. See, it’s easy.

And there is one more thing on the ol’ list of storm preparedness – maybe you haven’t really thought of this. Social Media.

Now I wouldn’t rely on Facebook. That’s where you go to tell everyone where you are, post pictures of yourself, compare yourself to others and congratulate people on having birthdays. Facebook also only shows you what it wants to show you…you don’t see everything that is posted by friends and the people you follow.

But, Twitter….now we’re on to something. Twitter is an excellent source for real time news and information. By the way…@GrandLakeLiving.

Your very first source should by your local National Weather Service office. For those of us in the Grand Lake area, all the way up to Miami, Grove and the very Northeast corner of Oklahoma, our local NWS office is Tulsa.

Their Twitter handle is @NWSTulsa. Follow them for the most immediate notifications of warnings and dangerous situations.

Everyone in the Grand Lake area likely would also want to follow @NWSWichita, which covers Southeast Kansas. And @NWSSpringfield for your Southwest Missouri information.

And then, as a social media backup, follow your favorite weather person or radio station on Twitter.

Every single weather person and news person is on Twitter, and the weather folks in particular are excellent at posting real time information on storms and dangerous situations.

Plus, you can also follow folks like Tornado Titans (@TornadoTitans), who are experienced and professional storm chasers that pass on information responsibly…they aren’t out to scare people, just keep you informed.

Bottom line…be ready when the storms come rolling into the Grand Lake area. Because they will, whether you are ready or not.