Weatherford Democrat

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May 17, 2013

Do outdoor sirens work?

That is a question city officials are asking after Wednesday’s North Texas tornado outbreak

By BRIAN SMITH

With no outdoor warning system, Wednesday night’s tornadoes has Weatherford city officials looking into the best way of informing residents about severe weather.

City Manager Jerry Blaisdell, Fire Chief Paul Rust and Police Chief Mike Manning all met Thursday to discuss the issue with Blaisdell urging the chiefs to research the issue and get back with him. Blaisdell said the issue of notification has been visited in the last few years with no clear definition of what to do.

As many as 10 area tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service. Along with various severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings in Parker County, three tornado warnings were also issued in the county, including one in the Millsap area where a twister damaged several structures and homes, and one in the Annetta area. A twister also reportedly touched down off Tin Top Road south of Weatherford.

The hardest hit areas were Granbury, where up to six people were killed, and Cleburne as well as portions of Ellis County. The storms left dozens of people injured and hundreds homeless.

Blaisdell said the city used an outdoor siren system years ago, but said the sirens tend to have the opposite effect of their intent.

“When people hear sirens, then tend to go outside and begin looking around, which is the last thing they should be doing,” Blaisdell said. “Why don’t we have an outdoor system? Is the siren the most efficient way of informing people of a tornado? That’s what we’re going to find out.”

The city has offered emergency transponders to residents, which also alert people in the case of a weather emergency. A phone system which is supposed to alert residents by phone of an impeding emergency didn’t work the way it was supposed to Wednesday, as tornadoes were seen east of Millsap and reportedly heading toward town.

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