Oklahoma City’s new tornado siren policy makes it more important than ever to immediately take shelter and get more information when you hear a siren.
The important new policy change, adopted Tuesday, Dec. 22 by the City Council, divides OKC into zones.
When the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning, only the sirens in zones covered by the warning will sound.
Residents and visitors don’t need to know what zone they’re in, only to immediately take shelter and get more information if they hear a siren.
In previous years, OKC sounded all of its sirens within a county affected by an NWS tornado warning.
For example, if the NWS issued a tornado warning in Cleveland County, OKC sounded all of its Cleveland County sirens. As a result, people could hear sirens far away from tornado threats.
Now, sirens will sound in smaller areas. That means anyone who hears a siren is more likely to be close to a potentially deadly storm.
The NWS and other emergency management officials collaborated with the City to recommend the policy improvement.
They concluded people are ignoring sirens as changing technology provides better information more quickly. It’s dangerous when people stop associating sirens with an imminent threat.
Officials still have discretion to activate sirens across a wider area when necessary.
Emergency management officials recommend you have more than one way to get warnings and other information about storms. Information sources include NOAA weather radios, smartphone apps, television news, traditional radios and online news and weather websites.
People with disabilities can receive alerts and warnings from the City’s Accessible Hazard Alert System (AHAS).
Go to http://okc.ahasalerts.com/ to learn more.