Digital billboards warn drivers of tornado risk

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Severe weather is expected this week, and a digital advertising company is joining in to help warn people in the path of a tornado.

Two years ago, Lamar Advertising asked if they could help.

Following the deadly May 20th Moore tornado, Lamar joined the task force for weather preparedness and agencies across the state including Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.

Lamar's flashy billboards are peddling safety with a series of state-approved lifesaving alerts.

"It may be the last opportunity to warn somebody that they need to be careful as they travel down the road." said Lamar General Manager, Bill Condon. "We have the ability to get the message out in minutes."

There are 28 digital billboards around Oklahoma City, 24 of them will be used for tornado warnings because they are located on highways around town.

Lamar rolled out the new strategy on March 25th.

"When things change, we're able to capture that change and get that message out and alert the public as quickly as possible," Condon said.

Lamar plans to activate the severe weather billboard when the National Weather Service calls for the warning.

ODOT will be on board soon, as well. They agency has used their traffic signs for tornado preparedness just once so far, May 31st 2013.

The warning, "Dangerous storms possible 4pm to 8pm today" came hours ahead of the deadly El Reno tornado touchdown.

Right now, the digital billboard warning system is only for the Oklahoma City metro area.

However, Lamar is considering expanding this project to Tulsa next year, if all goes well this season.


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