Residents of North Texas Town Question Local Officials Over Use of Storm Sirens

City officials often have their own guidelines for initiating tornado sirens, despite warnings being issued by the National Weather Service.

By Rhonda FanningMay 8, 2015 1:27 pm|

On Wednesday, the National Weather service reported 51 tornadoes in the Plains from Nebraska to northwest Texas. On Thursday an estimated 9 million people were at slight risk of severe weather, including large hail and isolated tornadoes. And, not to be outdone, this weekend calls for even more severe weather.

But most of us, especially in north Texas – the southern tip of ‘Tornado Alley’ – feel safe. Aren’t there are a system of warning sirens that sound at the first inclination of severe weather? Well, those alarms didn’t sound everywhere during thunderous weather Wednesday evening. Citizens of Wichita Falls have raised questions over why the city didn’t sound the alarm when the national weather service issued tornado warnings in their area.

The Texas Standard spoke to reporter Lynn Walker with the Times Record News, to get the temperature of the citizens’ upset.

Walker explained the city didn’t sound the alarms because local conditions didn’t meet the criteria requirements.

The criteria is:

– The city experiences sustained winds of 58 mph for 3 minutes or more

– A confirmed tornado is within the city limits.

– A confirmed tornado is immediately approaching the city limits

“The storm that spawned the tornado warnings for SE Wichita county, that storm was located in Archer county to the south of it… They knew exactly where it was going to go and what it was going to,” Walker Says. “If every time a tornado warning was issued that included a portion of Wichita County, and they blew the sirens, and people went to the cellars, we’re going to have a case of ‘the boy who cried wolf’, because they would become blase about those sirens. Those sirens are meant for when there’s eminent danger.”