Storms Highlight Flaws with Emergency Warning Systems

Weather radios, nixle alerts and sirens are three main tools officials use to alert residents in cases of severe weather, that pose a safety threat to the public.

Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve Mild, says recent severe weather that produced extremely high winds and two tornado's, highlighted some flaws with our emergency alert tools.

The Office of Emergency Management works with city, county, state, and federal agencies to make San Angelo and Tom Green County as disaster-resistant as possible.

By utilizing three key emergency warning systems, teams are able to warn the public about dangerous weather conditions through the nixle alerts on mobile phones, weather radio warnings, and the most misunderstood tool, warning sirens.

"If you're within earshot of that siren when you hear that siren that should alert you to go inside and see what's going on," Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve Mild, said.

Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve Mild, says during the storm on June 12th, power outages across the city caused problems with the weather alert warning systems.

"The last series of the storms has highlighted the flaws of at least two of the three, actually all three of them," Mild said.

Mild says, not any system is completely reliable.

"The sirens are basically old technology. They rely on having good hearing and they're most effective when you're outside, so when the sirens go off now-a-days it doesn't necessarily mean there's a tornado so you don't necessarily know what the specific hazard is," Mild said.

Twenty-seven warning sirens are set-up around San Angelo; winds 70 miles per hour or higher and golf size hail can also trigger the sirens, which can be just as or more dangerous than a tornado.

"Your older people have certain ideas that are hard to change, so until they get educated to how easy these other things are to access, those sirens are still very important," Mild said.

Mild says, residents need to be aware of weather conditions, and have a plan to get somewhere safe.

To assure our warning sirens are working correctly they are tested regularly, which happens the first of each month at noon.

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