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Muskogee Officials Considering Changes To Tornado Siren Policy

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Eight years ago, the City of Muskogee adopted a policy to only sound tornado sirens if a storm spotter sees a tornado, or if winds are higher than 70 miles per hour. Eight years ago, the City of Muskogee adopted a policy to only sound tornado sirens if a storm spotter sees a tornado, or if winds are higher than 70 miles per hour.
"I think it's probably outdated. I think we need to revise that warning system and tweak it a little bit more," said Councilor Randy Howard. "I think it's probably outdated. I think we need to revise that warning system and tweak it a little bit more," said Councilor Randy Howard.
"Sirens are kind of a 'darned if you do and darned if you don't' kind of deal," said Emergency Management Director Jimmy Moore. "Sirens are kind of a 'darned if you do and darned if you don't' kind of deal," said Emergency Management Director Jimmy Moore.
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -

Recent storms are causing Muskogee city councilors to rethink the city's tornado siren policy.

Some city councilors say it's taking entirely too long for emergency managers to sound the alarm.

Eight years ago, the City of Muskogee adopted a policy to only sound tornado sirens if a storm spotter sees a tornado, or if winds are higher than 70 miles per hour. Emergency managers say that rule was created because there are a lot of historic, older buildings in the city that cannot withstand high winds.

You may remember the unbelievable video from Osage SkyNews 6 of uprooted trees and damaged roofs in Tulsa. By the time that same storm system blew through Muskogee, winds had dropped to 65 miles per hour, which is below the city's policy to sound the tornado sirens.

"I think it's probably outdated. I think we need to revise that warning system and tweak it a little bit more," said Councilor Randy Howard.

Howard said it wasn't until a recent public works meeting that many of the councilors learned the criteria behind sounding the alarm.

He said he feels the city's current policy doesn't give people enough time to find shelter.

"When we're talking about Oklahoma's wicked weather, storms and tornadoes can do strange things, and we need to keep our citizens safe," Howard said.

The National Weather Service says it is up to each city or county to create its own guidelines on when to set off tornado sirens.

"Sirens are kind of a 'darned if you do and darned if you don't' kind of deal," said Emergency Management Director Jimmy Moore.

There are 19 sirens across the city. During severe weather, Moore monitors two different radars. If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for the county, Moore said he will not push the button to sound Muskogee's sirens unless the threat is getting close to city limits.

"If we're going to change it, let's change it for the better and let's not change it because we've had a few people call and complain," Moore said.

He said he worries easing the siren guidelines will do more harm than good.

"I'm just afraid that people are going to get used to hearing them and won't take them serious," Moore said.

Since tornado sirens are designed to warn people who are outdoors, the city says it is also looking into a phone alert system that will warn you if a storm is heading your way.

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