The Shaded 580
Tom Deighan


Written by Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent

Southwest Oklahoma seems to have developed a drinking problem lately. For years, the Lawton-Fort Sill area weather was a teetotaler and had cleaned up its act. Lawns were manageable and we fired up weed-eaters twice a month, tops!  But something happened, and our region fell off the wagon.  After several years of drought, Southwest Oklahoma dove headfirst into the rainwater and has not emerged since.  No one wants to return to the years of drought, but these binges of rain have got to stop as well.  This week, we had to postpone the Rotary Track Meet because the latest binge left the field sopping wet.  I think we can all agree that it is getting serious when our rain problem starts to impact the kids.  Maybe it is time for an intervention with our crazy weather uncle.

Southwest Oklahoma weather has become the weird uncle who says crazy stuff during family gatherings.   We all politely do our best to ignore him, but that is not working.  I can already hear him screaming, “You don’t know me!” if we try to confront him, but I think we can agree that the last week may be signs of a serious addiction we can no longer ignore.  Five inches of rain in three days is troubling, especially considering the pattern in the last two years.  Lawton is in real danger of turning into a tropical paradise, but as my neighbors can attest, I can’t even manage a lawn in a desert climate!  I hope we dry out soon, at least a little bit.   If not, I am planting palm trees.

Weather is always a problem in Oklahoma, but no matter how bad it gets, we cannot really complain, especially with the messes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left behind.  Puerto Rico may need six months just for power to be restored, so please keep them in your prayers as our island cousin recovers from its own crazy weather.  Our weather is erratic, and everyone has been irritated recently by shaggy lawns, but we should count our blessings. Oklahoma’s weather may be our crazy uncle, and no one ever knows what is next, but at least we do not have hurricanes. 

We still must face tornadoes, however, and while tornadoes do not cause as much widespread damage as hurricanes, they are truly dangerous.  We Okies have grown accustomed to the crazy weather, but transplants to Lawton-Fort Sill may have a healthier perspective on the matter.  “Isn’t this Tornado Alley?” they ask. “And you have schools without safe places?”  Although the questions are not rhetorical, there are no answers.  All of our schools should have safe places.

For decades, Lawton has struggled with the unfair image as the Shady 580, but a recent report shared at Fort Sill rated our base #1 among TRADOC installations for satisfaction.  Things like this keep pointing to a turn in our image as a community, so we should not let our crazy Uncle Weather ruin any more family reunions.  Just imagine if the Shady 580 became known as the Shaded 580!   A place of safety and comfort . . . a place that not only shades our children from the blazing heat but also protects them from tornadoes and storms. Lawton-Fort Sill is an amazing community, but it is sometimes hard for others to see just how amazing when simple things remain undone . . . like installing safe rooms in the center of Tornado Alley. We did not earn the Shady 580 reputation overnight, and we won’t ever get control of our crazy Uncle Weather, but we can do everything possible to protect our children from tornadoes, so one day, we may say, “Welcome to the Shaded 580!”