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Tornado Safety: Don't Depend On Sirens

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Experts say storms can develop so quickly, there's not time to issue a warning. Experts say storms can develop so quickly, there's not time to issue a warning.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

It might surprise you to think that emergency officials don't want you to depend on sirens to warn you about tornadoes. The National Weather Service says sometimes storms develop so quickly, there's not time to issue a warning.

Unfortunately, it's a perfect storm that played out in Tulsa over the summer.

August 6, 2017, 1:19 in the morning.

"You can see damage now extends from 51st between 41st to 61st, and that goes all the way to 145th E. Avenue," said News On 6 Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer.

An EF-2 tornado levels businesses in midtown Tulsa, but many people say the warning came too late.

Stay Ahead Of The Storm

"This storm just happened so quickly, and it was ahead of our warning a little bit," said Steve Piltz of the National Weather Service.

Steve Piltz - head of Tulsa's National Weather Service - says by the time rotation was detected on the radar and they issued a warning, the tornado had already touched down.

"It's moved so quickly, it's already out of the city, so it was sort of a joint decision not to blow the sirens," he said.

Piltz tells us the tornado appeared on radar about 90 seconds before a business took a direct hit. In that small window of time he says 40 mph winds suddenly increased to 125 mph.

"Every decision, every move is magnified. Every time you pause, so if you say 'hey, come look at this data and tell me what you think,' that 30-40 seconds it's moved another mile almost," he said.

The best advice is to always stay weather aware. You can do that by downloading the free News On 6 weather app, which is available for iPhone and Android. There you can see live radar and watch our live streaming coverage, as we tracking storms - minute by minute.

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