(CNN) -- Talk about steep odds. The building that houses the nation's Storm Prediction Center lay, for a while at least, in the predicted path of a tornado that raked across Oklahoma.
The tornado warning that foretold the storms covered an area in Norman that included the center, which predicts tornadoes and other severe weather events for the entire country.
A spokesman for the center, which is part of the National Weather Service, told CNN early in the evening that it had transferred its responsibilities to the U.S. Air Force Global Weather Central at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
But, two hours later, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Forecast Office told CNN that the center's mission-critical scientists had continued operations uninterrupted.
"We did not close the Storm Prediction Center," said Daryl Williams, a forecaster for the weather service, which operates on the same floor of the six-story National Weather Center, the building that houses the prediction center along with a slew of other weather-related entities. "The operational people went right on."
Nevertheless, he added, the prediction center's non-essential personnel took shelter in an auditorium below ground.
The NWS offices are "about three doors down" from the prediction center's offices, he said. "We can see each other through the glass."
Asked if he was afraid to keep working in the building as the tornado approached, Williams said, "No, we were confident in the structure of the building and the tornado didn't get that close." The building was built five years ago and has reinforced window panes, he said.
Had the tornado gotten closer, "we do have a safe room, but it was not that close."
If the weather experts had decided to seek shelter in their safe room, they would have first shifted the forecast office's responsibilities to the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which can duplicate their work, said Rick Smith, a warning coordination meteorologist at the weather service's Norman office.
"We'd been coordinating with them," he said. "We back them up and they back us up."
But Tuesday's storm never approached that level of severity around their workplace, Smith said. "We just kept doing our job. We just kept working."
Though the center has not had to close for a tornado or any other severe weather event since at least the early 1990s, its personnel practice handing off responsibilities to Tulsa several times a year "to be sure we can do it seamlessly and quickly," he said.