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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Tuesday’s warning was only a test

March 15, 2006

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Storm-weary Lawrencians could be forgiven if they got a bit jittery Tuesday afternoon when outdoor tornado sirens roared to life across Douglas County.

The alert was part of a statewide tornado drill during Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas, but it came two days after a devastating microburst of intense winds that did as much as $8 million in damage to Lawrence properties.

"This is the best time to do it, so people know how to prepare," said Teri Smith, assistant director of Douglas County Emergency Management. "This gives them the opportunity to practice that."

During Tuesday's test, emergency officials tried to clear up any confusion about how they decide to sound the alert.

¢ The sirens are not turned on merely because the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for the county.

"Usually, in a real situation, we would have to have local, visual confirmation (of a tornado) from our storm spotters before the sirens go on," said Mark Cairns, a duty officer in the emergency management agency.


Kansas University Facility Operations personnel work to replace the windows at Budig Hall/Hoch Auditoria. The shards of many windows shattered during Sunday's storm were piled in the back of a truck Tuesday.

Kansas University Facility Operations personnel work to replace the windows at Budig Hall/Hoch Auditoria. The shards of many windows shattered during Sunday's storm were piled in the back of a truck Tuesday.

Bob Newton, another duty officer, said Lawrence residents began ignoring more frequent warnings during the 1970s, when severe thunderstorms would trigger the system. So the policy was changed.

"If we sounded the sirens for every severe thunderstorm warning, people would stop paying attention," Newton said.

Lawrence sirens did sound Sunday morning after the microburst hit town - triggered by the winds' widespread damage, officials said, and a report from one storm spotter.

¢ No all-clear signal will be given using the outdoor sirens. Residents, Newton said, should listen to radios and television to determine when it's safe to emerge from shelter.

"You hear a siren, take cover," he said. "You hear a siren again, take cover again."

¢ On Tuesday, Newton also broadcast a test warning over the voice-activated alert system, but that doesn't break into local television or radio programming. Such messages can be heard on a special all-hazards weather band radio that receives the alerts. Weather band radios can be purchased for around $30.

March 12, 2006, Storm

Related content for the storm

  • A year later, microburst's sudden fury still evident (03-11-07)
  • EMS chief stays positive after injuries (03-11-07)
  • Comments

    Linda Aikins 8 years, 9 months ago

    Yep I do. Home of Greg Boxberger, and Loa Boxberger!

    Harry_Manback 8 years, 9 months ago

    Your the idiot here...

    LOL, idiot, I always thought it was You're, not your.

    jwmound 8 years, 9 months ago

    Where I grew up in western Kansas, the tested the sirens every Monday at noon. Why not have weekly tests here in Lawrence as well?

    Linda Aikins 8 years, 9 months ago

    Yes - we tested ours every Monday at noon too! Was your town in SW Kansas?

    Golly qb, you are on a roll today.

    onehotmomma 8 years, 9 months ago

    In our house, when the sirens sound, we go outside to see whats going on!!! Two F3+ tornadoes in Wichita and I still walk outside to check out the clouds!! We do get smarter with age!!

    loboda 8 years, 9 months ago

    With all the noise from the wind, sometimes the sirens just can't be heard. I think it is a good idea for the news to interrupt and tell people what is going on. I know people who live right across the street from a siren and complained because they could not hear it.

    jwmound 8 years, 9 months ago

    If you know Bob Dole's hometown,.. Smack dab in the middle of kansas

    YourItalianPrincess 8 years, 9 months ago

    Why are the sirens for the people outside only? Thats what someone said the other day I believe.

    Like I was up and watching the tv at 8 am on a Sunday morning..........LOL

    mztrendy 8 years, 9 months ago

    well where I'm from, the idiots around here think its fun to shoot out the sirens. Gotta love small towns.

    roadrunner 8 years, 9 months ago

    Well, this is my first post ever. I knew this storm/siren issue would create a lot of buzz, so I couldn't resist.

    Does anyone on this post realize that the sirens are called "outdoor" warning sirens for a reason? They weren't mean't to wake you up, unless your sleeping outside, they were mean't to warn those who are "outdoors"! Why? Because if you are inside and the sky turns dark, you should pay attention to another warning source. It also doesn't make sense to have a warning siren post stuck at every intersection in town just so those who are too lazy to watch the weather in Kansas, home of the tornado, can be warned of an approaching storm. Can you imagine the posts on that story!! All the warm and fuzzies would be throwing a fit about ruining the landscape of Lawrence with warning sirens!

    If you go to bed and there is even a small chance the weather is supposed to be bad, then you should prepare in some other way. Hence the invention of the weather radio. I think it's easy to lay blame on someone else when people should take some responsibilty for their own safety.

    Although I may never post again. I must say, reading all the banter the regulars post on this site is a sad reflection on the majority of intelligent people that live here.

    Happy posting!

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