City Responds to Outdoor Siren Questions

Published: May. 7, 2015 at 3:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 7, 2015 at 3:30 PM CDT
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Wichita Falls, Texas- City of Wichita Falls officials have received inquiries as to why tornado sirens in the city were not sounded when a Tornado Warning was issued by the National Weather Service late Wednesday evening.

In response to these inquiries, Wichita Falls Fire Chief Jon Reese issued the following statement:

 “The City of Wichita Falls Emergency Operations Plan has a predetermined policy that the (Outdoor) Emergency Notification Sirens within the City Limits of Wichita Falls will be sounded when any of the following three actions occur:”

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

2. A confirmed tornado is within the city limits.

3. A confirmed tornado is immediately approaching the city limits.

The statement continues: "The safety of our community is our number one priority. We have an obligation to make educated, informed decisions regarding emergency notifications such as when to activate the outdoor warning sirens.

City officials also utilize technology and human intelligence during severe weather. The City of Wichita Falls has an Emergency Management Official who partners with a local Meteorologist to monitor radar data and streaming information from the National Weather Service.

In addition, our Emergency Management Staff utilizes human intelligence comprised of local, "boots on the ground, professionally trained, Amateur Radio Emergency Services Weather Spotters. Our team considers all available data, to make timely, informed decisions for when the activation of the sirens is necessary. As to addressing the three criteria for siren activation Wednesday evening:”

1. There were no sustained winds of 58 mph for 3 minutes or more.

2. There was no confirmed tornado within the city limits.

3. A confirmed tornado was not immediately approaching the city limits.

Chief Reese would also like to remind residents that the CodeRed Emergency Notification System is being replaced at the end of May with a new notification system called NIXLE. All residents are urged to sign up for the FREE Emergency Notification System by May 31st.

To sign up for Nixle using a Smart Phone, simply text your zip code to 888777. This will automatically register you to receive free Emergency Alerts. If you do not have a cell phone go to the NIXLE website to register or contact the City's Public Information Office at 761-7401 for registration information.