A fake tornado that passed through Lawrence on Thursday left the town prepared to deal with real severe weather situations, an emergency preparedness official said.
Dale Creed, Douglas County emergency preparedness coordinator, said today that he would term the mock tornado a success because it gave local emergency responders a chance to test their procedures and equipment, all of which functioned well.
The fake tornado passed across the entire state from west to east as part of a statewide emergency preparedness test conducted to reveal any problems with emergency response systems. The mock tornado was scheduled for Tuesday, but the test was postponed because severe weather was forecast across much of the state and weather officials did not want to create confusion between the test and real weather situations.
OF THE 24 civil defense sirens in Lawrence, 23 sounded a mock alarm at 10 a.m. Thursday to announce that weather observers had tracked the phony twister to Lawrence, Creed said.
The one siren that did not work is at the corner of Kasold Drive and Yale Road and should undergo repairs either today or Saturday, Creed said.
A highlight of Thursday's siren test was the loud wail emitted from the siren at Quail Run School. The siren had not worked in tests since it was installed several years ago, Creed said.
During most of the year, the sirens are tested at noon on the first Monday of each month. But they are tested twice a month March through July, Creed said.
DURING THE spring and summer months, the sirens are tested at noon on the first and third Mondays of each month because of the increased chance they will be used, he said.
Many residents called the police and sheriff's department Thursday as the sirens sounded, which Creed advised against. Instead, Creed recommended that residents take cover when they hear the sirens and tune to local radio broadcasts to learn why the sirens are sounding. If the radio announces the sirens are being tested or are malfunctioning, they then can return to what they were doing, he said.
"That way the phone lines are not tied up for the emergency preparedness, and it helps to protect them," he said. "If people are talking on the phone, they are not protected very well."
Creed said that people who want to learn more about severe weather are invited to attend an emergency weather spotter training class at 7 p.m. March 21 at Nichols Hall on Kansas University's West Campus. The class will be conducted by Bill Fortune, warning and preparedness meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Topeka.