Effort Underway For Safer Storm Sirens

Wednesday, April 9th 2008, 7:20 pm
By: News On 6

There's a plan to replace all of the storm sirens in Tulsa County. It's an effort to create a more reliable system. News On 6's Emory Bryan reports it's a system that we count on, perhaps too much, to alert us of a storm. It's really only meant to alert people who are outside, not inside, and especially not asleep.

The new siren sounds the same, but has some advantages.

This is the newest storm siren in Tulsa County. The City of Tulsa came about this $26,000 siren by accident. The old one was destroyed in a car wreck, so the city had to replace it. The new siren has the latest technology, but the principle is the same, it transmits a really loud sound to alert people of a problem.

"We hit the sirens about 2:30 a.m. right after the tornado warning was put out," said Mike McCool Tulsa Area Emergency Management.

The sirens worked on Tuesday to alert Tulsa of a tornado warning, but McCool says the new ones work even better.

"The rotating head siren, it's tone will sound like it's changing when it's turning away from you and back towards you. The omni-directional siren will sound the same tone all of the time," said McCool. 

For the last twenty years, the warning has come from tall gray speakers that turn on top of a pole. They work for now, but are due for replacement and this is what the city plans to buy.

The sound from the new sirens carries a little better, so that's an advantage because they're easier to hear in the neighborhoods. But, the biggest advantage is that the sound goes out in all directions at once.

Most of the sirens in Tulsa only send out a narrow beam of sound but rotate to cover a full circle. The new ones don't need to turn because they broadcast sound in all directions at once, covering a circle one and a half miles across.

The city repairs the old ones to keep them going, but plans to replace them all within 3 years, so Tulsa can stay at the forefront of storm warning capabilities.

Tulsa has 84 storm sirens and 5 of them have already been replaced. Even though that's a lot, it's not total coverage, even for the city. So, emergency managers really want people to have a system in place for getting alerts, through a weather radio or the media, because you may not be able to hear the sirens.

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