City to Reconsider Lack of Tornado Warning Sirens

Following the flurry of tornadoes the night of February 19, the San Antonio Fire Department says it will revisit its 2012 decision that a city wide network of emergency sirens to warn residents of the onrush of potentially dangerous weather was impractical, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Assistant Fire Chief Larry Trevino, who is in charge of the City's Emergency Operations, says following a minor tornado that hit in southwest San Antonio five years ago, a study was conducted of the feasibility of erecting warning sirens around the city.He says the decision was made that the proposal was not practical.

"At that time, we concluded that tornado sirens were not cost efficient for the City of San Antonio."

"We're in flood alley, not in tornado alley, so that played a big part in it," he said.

Since the tornadoes hit between 10:30 and 11:00 PM on a Sunday night, many of the people whose homes were damaged were asleep at the time.  While radio, television, and social media provided warnings, those aren't much good when you're sleeping.

Tornado sirens are a common facet of urban life from Oklahoma through Iowa, where tornadoes are considered to be more common.

But there is also a growing concern about what has come to be called the 'car alarm effect.'  After a couple of false alarms, or tornadoes that do little or no damage, would the public start tuning them out, like they do to blaring car alarms in mall parking lots?

Trevino told City Council that after the April 2016 hail hellstorm, followed by the tornadoes, the issue will be reconsidered.

"What's the trend, are we slipping into Tornado Alley, what is climate change doing to us here?" he asked.  "We have had a major hail storm, and now tornadoes, what is yet to come?"

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