Tulsa Emergency Management Says Don't Rely On Storm Sirens
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Emergency Management warns residents to not rely solely on the storm sirens. This after reports that storm sirens never sounded before the deadly Woodward tornado early Sunday morning.
While Tulsa has a lot of storm sirens, the much faster and more reliable warning will come from alerts on weather radios. Emergency managers say every home should have one, but the most important step is to just be aware of what's in the forecast.
Roger Joliff is responsible for sounding Tulsa's storm sirens, and even he says it's not the way people should get their warnings of an approaching tornado.
"A storm siren is the warning of last resort. It's the last new information you'll get before a tornado is going to hit you," Joliff said.
Tulsa has 87 storms sirens and under ideal conditions - they can be heard as far as a mile away. But that's only for people who are outside to hear it.
The problem is that storms can drown out the siren - especially for people inside houses. Joliff believes people rely on the sirens to do the impossible.
"People should absolutely not think a siren will wake them up in the night. The sirens are intended for outdoor use only and even though they may hear us testing the sirens at noon on Wednesday, during a storm, the acoustics of the atmosphere and that sound will not carry like it would in clear conditions," Joliff said.
In Woodward, there are unconfirmed reports the storm sirens didn't work because a lightning strike disabled the system.
In Tulsa, the sirens have battery backup power - and can be activated from several locations - so no one problem can disable the entire system.
"We have 3 points of activation for our system, so if we have a problem at any one location, we still have the ability to activate the system from the other two and in here we have generator power to backup the electricity so even if we lose power we'll still be able to transmit the signal out," Joliff said.
A good weather radio costs about $35. Unlike the storm sirens, the radios will wake you up.