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Tulsa Emergency Management Says Tornado Sirens Are Last Resort

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The newest tornado siren in Tulsa's outdoor alert system is on the south side of Turkey Mountain, in a spot that, wasn't covered by the network before. The newest tornado siren in Tulsa's outdoor alert system is on the south side of Turkey Mountain, in a spot that, wasn't covered by the network before.
"The warning sirens are the last-ditch effort to let you know that a tornado warning has been issued by the national weather service," said Tulsa Director of Emergency Management Roger Joliff. "The warning sirens are the last-ditch effort to let you know that a tornado warning has been issued by the national weather service," said Tulsa Director of Emergency Management Roger Joliff.
Under ideal conditions, the City of Tulsa wants the siren network to cover about 90 percent of the city. Under ideal conditions, the City of Tulsa wants the siren network to cover about 90 percent of the city.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

If severe weather prompts a tornado warning Tuesday night, Tulsa's outdoor sirens will be activated. A lot of people count on those for the warning, but the man in charge of them says that's not a good idea.

The sirens cover most of Tulsa, but not all of it, and they're usually difficult to hear if you're indoors or in a car, so that's why they're considered to be the warning of last resort.

The newest tornado siren in Tulsa's outdoor alert system is on the south side of Turkey Mountain, in a spot that, wasn't covered by the network before.

It's just across the street from Southwest Veterinary College, and employees there say they never misses a warning now.

"[It's] very loud. I don't hear the traffic out there, at all, but when that thing goes off, I jump out of my skin," said veterinarian Keith Bailey.

Under ideal conditions, the City of Tulsa wants the siren network to cover about 90 percent of the city. Tulsa Emergency Management wants more sirens, but they also say people should not count on them for the warning.

"The warning sirens are the last-ditch effort to let you know that a tornado warning has been issued by the national weather service," said Tulsa Director of Emergency Management Roger Joliff.

Joliff said people shouldn't wait for the sirens to get ready, because they only sound for the most severe weather, namely a tornado warning.

"And keep in mind, we could have a tornado on the ground when the sirens are sounding. It's just the nature of storms and tornadoes," Joliff said.

Tulsa's outdoor alert system has 89 sirens; 2 more since last year. Each suburb has it's own separate system. The sound from a siren travels about one mile, and the newer ones are omni-directional, so the sound travels in all directions. The older sirens, that put out sound in one direction, but slowly rotate, are being replaced with the new model.

They require less maintenance and the sound is louder and travels further, including right through Dr. Bailey's office.

"Do I hear it? All too well. As a matter of fact, after it goes off, it takes me a few minutes before I can hear anything else," Bailey said.

Each additional siren costs $27,000. And though many people can hear them indoors, they are only designed and spaced so they can be heard by people who are outdoors.

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