Changes Coming To OKC Metro's Severe Weather Warning System

Monday, February 28th 2011, 11:45 pm
By: News 9

Rusty Surette, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's a problem that comes up every storm season. Tornado sirens aren't always the most reliable way to warn us about severe weather, which is why emergency managers are making changes.

If you've lived in Oklahoma for some time, you've been through it before -- a tornado siren goes off but the weather where you are is actually nice.

Last year in Edmond, authorities activated tornado sirens to warn boaters at Lake Arcadia of lightning.

"They should make it to where if only it's a tornado that's coming you should do the siren. If not you shouldn't do it," said Khadijuha Mcoy, Oklahoma City resident.

There's also concern for when sirens are going off in one part of town for a threat that's several miles away.

"The people be getting scared for no reason," said Shaniya Alexander, Oklahoma City resident.

Emergency managers said it's a common complaint they get every time tornado season rolls around.

"There are misperceptions about the system," said Frank Barnes, Oklahoma City Emergency Manager.

So why does this happen? Well it turns out every city, every county has its own set of rules for when and when not to sound the alarms.

"It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction who makes that decision," Barnes said.

That's why all metro emergency managers are getting together and issuing a new uniform set of guidelines.

"On Wednesday morning, the Central Oklahoma Emergency Management Association will announce recently developed regional outdoor warning system guidelines," Barnes said.

Emergency managers wouldn't say what those guidelines are, but they will be used by all communities in the Oklahoma City metro area, including El Reno and Shawnee.

There are 182 storm sirens just in Oklahoma City alone.