ENID, Okla. —
Let’s talk about the weather.
For many people, weather might be a dull go-to topic when a conversation is dying, but in Oklahoma weather is unpredictable, thrilling and often dangerous. It is definitely something to talk about.
There may be a certain thrill in storm spotting, but trained storm spotters and emergency personnel might say otherwise. Even for a professional, storm spotting can be very dangerous and, just when you think the worst is over, the storm has other thoughts.
Three of the Enid area's trained professionals know the danger of Oklahoma’s storms and have a few stories to share when the topic of weather comes up.
When a tornado struck the town of Carrier in 1999, Garfield County Emergency Management Director Mike Honigsberg was keeping track of the storm from right behind it.
“I got caught in the rear-flanking downdraft and it took me off the road,” said Honigsberg.
Even thought Honigsberg was behind, not in, the tornadic storm, the dangers were still very real.
“It caught me and threw me sideways,” said Honigsberg. “It got me so quick.”
Honigsberg said the experience changed him.
“That’s when I really started preaching hard to our people. It’s not a game out there. Mother Nature can kill you,” said Honigsberg.
It is not possible to completely predict a storm’s pathway, a fact Honigsberg said he learned early on in his career.
“I was also storm spotting when I was going to college up in Alva,” said Honigsberg. “I was with the ambulance service and that was part of our training.”
The early experience with seasoned storm spotters taught Honigsberg the important lesson of knowing his surroundings.
“There were several times when I was in college where we kind of ended up at the wrong place at a dead-end road,” said Honigsberg. “You have to make sure you have an escape route.”
Honigsberg said the realization when something like that happens is unforgettable.
“You realize you just made a mistake that might cost you your life,” he said.
Fortunately for Honigsberg, he has made it through the close calls and he has been the emergency management director for nearly 18 years.