Archive for Friday, May 2, 2008

Emergency officer: ‘It never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens’

May 2, 2008, 12:49 p.m. Updated May 2, 2008, 1:03 p.m.


As many Douglas County residents have noted, the sirens did not sound early Friday morning despite a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service in Topeka.

Bob Newton, the overnight's duty officer for Douglas County Emergency Management, said, "it never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens last night."

He said Douglas County has a stringent policy that requires a weather service warning to be confirmed, when possible by trained storm spotters or law enforcement. Newton said the county had storm spotters out and they never saw rotation nor thought there was a high likelihood of a tornado touching down.

Newton also said that in Douglas County, sirens are almost never activated purely because of wind.

That's not the case in all counties. In Shawnee County, for instance, the sirens were activated at the request of the National Weather Service, emergency management director Dave Sterbenz said.

"We set our sirens off if that happens or if one of our trained spotters sees one," he said. "Right after they called us, a spotter saw one and they would have gone off anyway."

Chuck Magaha, emergency management director in Leavenworth County, never set the sirens off in his county, but said he usually would consider it when a storm is capable of producing 80 mph winds or greater. Friday morning's storm had winds of 70 mph, recorded at the Lawrence airport and 6News Chief Meteorologist Jennifer Schack said they may have been as great as 80 mph in Lawrence.

Douglas County Kansas Outdoor Warning Siren Policy


The outdoor warning sirens for any or all of the cities in Douglas County are activated when a local determination is made that a tornado threat to the area exists. This determination is made by Douglas County Emergency Management staff and will be based on the evaluation of all available information. This may include, but is not limited to, National Weather Service watch and/or warning text, weather radar and reports from trained weather spotters or law enforcement officers.

The decision to activate the sirens will normally be made by the Emergency Management Duty Officer. If no such person is on duty or that person is not immediately available, the jurisdictional senior law enforcement officer on duty will make the decision and direct the Emergency Communications Center staff to activate the sirens.

Douglas County has the capability of activating all of the sirens at once or more selectively by activating one or more of the six siren zones. All sirens are sounded unless the threat is clearly confined to an individual zone(s). The sirens will be sounded for three minutes initially, and then intermittently throughout the warning period as needed. There is NO "all-clear" siren.


The outdoor warning sirens will be tested on a regular basis. The test will occur at 12 Noon on the first Monday during the months August through February, and on the first and third Monday during the months March through July. Additionally, conducted each morning at 9:00AM an operational poll of each siren is conducted. This is an automatic poll conducted by the computer software program.


allateup 10 years ago

Bob Newton decided to play God last night

KJones 10 years ago

At first I was upset over the sirens not being sounded, then I realized that there are, to my knowledge, no public shelters. My house consists of a living with two large bay windows, a bedroom with on large bay window, and a bathroom so frankly now I'd rather not know about every time I can't do a thing.

misslawrence 10 years ago

I'm moving back to Breckenridge CO!!!!!!!!!!!! no more misslawrence,too embarrassed.....

iloveyoutoo 10 years ago

All I know is that we have tvs, radios, telephones, and sirens to warn people of harsh weather. All should be utilized when we are under a tornado warning. Any ONE of the items above could save lives, so it is important that we use all of them.

justthefacts 10 years ago

And for the record, in the past when the sirens have sounded in the middle of the night (when the storm was going) I did hear them. So they work (when used) to alert people to move to lower ground or safer areas!

TopJayhawk 10 years ago

Hey,KSA_21_3503..Hey tough guy. Why don't you answer the girls questions? Are you a pedophile or what? You are a weasel for sure. Your dodge by saying to talk to the legislature has nothing at all to do with her question.

ohjayhawk 10 years ago

"When the doppler indicated the tornado, they NEVER said it indicated rotation"The NWS will never issue a tornado warning without the Doppler radar picking up rotation.

akt2 10 years ago

All trained emergency professionals handle themselves with calm, non-chalant voices. Listen to a police scanner sometime. They have to remain calm in order to communicate with the public. He did his job.

jgragg 10 years ago

This is Kansas. How can you forget to activate the siren?

Zype 10 years ago

Well I feel safe.Thanks, Newton.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

They didn't sound the sirens because they didn't want to field phone calls from people upset at being awakened at 1 a.m.If the same storm had come through Lawrence at 1 p.m., they would have sounded the sirens.

monkeyspunk 10 years ago

"And I would bet that this is the last time Bob Newton ever comments on a policy he creates."That should read "policy he DOESN'T create."

dirkleisure 10 years ago

Remember, this news organization believes tornado sirens are obsolete anyway.See: Simons must have a tornado siren near his house that he would prefer go the way of the dodo.

eddiez 10 years ago

I was waiting for the sirens...Next thing I know, I wake up in St. Louis.

KUMOM25 10 years ago

Mr. Newton,With all these students living in apartment complexes with not shelter....what are you thinking? They need time to get to shelter. I did not appreciate my frantic 1:15 a.m. call, in which I entered Lawrence on and found a tornado warning was in effect with NO sirens going off. I couldn't help her being over 3 hours away. Change your policy...change your thinking before someone is hurt. I encourage everyone to buy weather can't depend on emergency management personnel in Lawrence.

hootman31 10 years ago

ksdivakat,Bob was lucky and so where we: it was a different story in '81 when the sirens didn't get sounded! injuries and death were blamed on a lack of warning about the storm. Phil Rankin, who was a volunteer storm spotter at the time, saw the tornado descend from the clouds and was able to issue a warning over his radio. His transmission started the city's warning sirens, but residents had only about 30 seconds to take cover."People didn't have time," he told the Journal-World in 1991. "They didn't have much warning."Although the 1981 storm was deadly and changed many residents' lives, the destruction could have been worse. The tornado that struck Lawrence that day was unusual, meteorologists say.

elou 10 years ago

I don't understand how it was that we heard some kind of siren in our area, near campus, last night between 1:30 and 1:40. It sounded just like the usual tornado warning siren. I wondered why it went off so late. I would prefer if the sirens would go off immediately in response to a NWS tornado warning, rather than relying on spotters. I really just want to be on the safe side.

ffan04 10 years ago

Being an atmospheric science major at KU I cannot believe the sirens were not used. The whole reason doppler radar was developed was to warn people before a tornado touchdown. Tornadoes and storms form very quickly and 20 years ago there was no way to warning people other than spotters observing a tornado. By the time someone is observing a tornado its already to late for some who are in the path especially at night when people are asleep and its difficult to see a tornado or funnel cloud. Based on how this emergency officer acted he disregarded the warning system and technology developed to help protect people. The city needs to address this.

elou 10 years ago

duplenty, I'm sure Bob Newton is good at his job, but I do believe we need a policy change. Also, I'm not awake, listening to 6news at 1am. I'm asleep with my family in my house with no basement. Thanks.

ksdivakat 10 years ago

I would also suggest if you are angry and upset about it, call EOC and ask for an accounting of the reason why. Let them know how you feel, and perhaps the policy will change.

gphawk89 10 years ago

There's a delicate balance between sounding the sirens too often or not often enough. Too often and the public becomes desensitized. The policy where I live is to sound the sirens here if a tornado is sighted in an adjacent county. As a result, folks pay little if any attention to the sirens.

Angela Heili 10 years ago

The gene pool needs a little chlorine.

introversion 10 years ago

I remember in the microburst a couple years ago when the sirens went off after everything was over...

RKLOG 10 years ago

A tornado is nothing to mess with! It will cause no damage to blow the sirens! There are many folks out there who work in the middle on the night who could probably benefit from hearing a siren. Blow the sirens!! Blow the stupid sirens!!!

Danielle Brunin 10 years ago

What, was he asleep? Okay, so he decided that the tornado warning didn't warrant activation of the tornado sirens, but he never even considered it? That was a pretty dumb thing to say. Everyone please just get a weather radio.

BigPrune 10 years ago

The rotation first spotted on radar was out by Stull. Pretty far from Lawrence, though the wind was pretty incredible in town.

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years ago

It was only a 70mph wind. Why is everyone having a cow over that??

Baille 10 years ago

Hey, Alfie. I think they are trying to be proactive and plan for the next one. Why wait for someone to die before you reevaluate a policy?

ksdivakat 10 years ago

I hope that the hype and hysteria will be calmed by rational thinking.In the 15 years that Bob and Terri have been with EOC, how many people in douglas county have died due to a storm?? The answer is 0.The sirens are designated to notify people OUTSIDE, not to notify people INSIDE. This is why, the safest, and most reliable method of warning is a weather radio. This will sound if there is sirens or not. This is the BEST method of protection against Kansas storms.Indeed, we went under the warning around 12:45-1:00, however, by the time it actually entered the county it had already weakend significantly. There was at NO time a trained spotter who spotted a funnel or a rotating cloud.The tornado warning was prompted by a doplar radar indicated tornado. This does not always mean tornado. You must understand how doplar works, its contingent on the location of the radar and the direction of the storm, VS the direction of the wind sheer, if these ingredients come together the radar will indicate tornado, but it doesnt always mean tornado. This is why, the spotters must spot the funnel and transmit that to EOC. 80 MPH winds are dangerous and are very scary, but is not a tornado.This is Kansas, and the weather is subject to change at the twinkling of an eye.....please remember the safest thing is to purchase a weather radio, which are very inexpensive.

sharper 10 years ago

I don't want the sirens blown at a drop of a hat for frivilous reasons so that people become too accustomed to them and think that a siren means absolutely nothing, but I live in an apartment and I think that a siren should be blown when a storm is that severe. A girl in Arkansas died when a tree blew over and fell on her house and caught her while she was sleeping in bed. A tree fell over in Lawrence too, but luckily they were up watching tv and not in their bedroom.With 70+ mph winds (purely wind, bah, might as well say "merely" wind) and a tornado warning, they sure as heck should have "thought" about sounding the sirens.

alfie 10 years ago

Hey people give it a break, no one was hurt. Go cry wolf somewhere else

mistygreen 10 years ago

I'm sorry it is completely unacceptable to risk the lives of people just because it did not cross his mind. Obviously he is regulated by Douglas county policy. I understand the guy is doing his job, but this policy needs to be re-evaluated.

Qanzas 10 years ago

What I find most worrisome about the existing procedure is its dependence upon a spotter literally seeing a tornado. It seems unlikely that there are enough spotters to see a tornado that may form anywhere in or directly around the city in the daytime, let alone in the darkness at 1AM in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. I know I'm not the only one who saw the tornado on the ground south of 23rd St during the so-called "microburst" a few years back. The previous comments that a warning would come to late are completely accurate.Further, the NWS warning last night was not a general warning canvasing the entirety of Douglas county. Instead, it very specifically stated a wall cloud, with rotation, and funnels, was directly west of Clinton lake, and that *the cities of Lawrence and Tonganoxie should take cover immediately.I'd like to repeat RKLOG in saying, "Blow the sirens!! Blow the stupid sirens!!!"

merg311 10 years ago

So if the sirens do go off, your trampoline still gets thrown into the front yard and your fence still gets shredded. Sure they should have sounded, but it wouldn't have changed anything!

hootman31 10 years ago

Seems to me that a TORNADO WARNING is just that: the Warning of a Possible Tornado!?!?.I didn't realize that Douglas County has different Levels of Tornado Warnings!?!#@#So last night's warning must have only been a Yellow Alert Tornado Warning which doesn't trigger the sirens?!?!I guess we should disregard the National Weather Services's Warning Warning Warning: You are about to be blown AWAY!I guess we should wait until Douglas County county decides that it is actually a Red Alert Tornado Warning, designated so by the vote of a committee???This seems to go against the whole idea of having an Advanced Warning System at all. Notice the word ADVANCED, as in before it gets here!My vote is to do away with the Color Coded Tornado Warning System, and only sound the sirens when someone has physically been picked-up and tossed-around, and then spit-out; and then still only if they happen to land within say 100 yards of the Law Enforcement Center.

westernksgirl 10 years ago

KSA 21-3503 . . . really? You're using that as your screen name? You're using "indecent liberties with a child"? Unless, you yourself are over the age of 14 but less than 16 (per the statute), this is not cute, it is sick.

westernksgirl 10 years ago

I have no problem with the law, I have a problem with someone using a statute number that stands for indecent liberties with a child, and since, given your history of postings, you are relatively new to this, and this is one of the few forums that you've posted on, this is why I'm bringing this up now. I think you using that as your sign in is sick.

mom_of_three 10 years ago

Aren't 80 mph winds considered hurricane force??Nobody was injured, so last night's decision didn't affect anything but people's peace of mind. But EMS might want to think about their policy (about winds) after last night.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

Aren't we always told that just because you can't see a tornado or signs of a tornado, a tornado warning means formation could happen at a moment's notice?According to the NOAA, if a tornado warning is issued you should "move to your pre-designated place of safety."Hard to do that when there is no notification of the warning being issued.

elou 10 years ago

Please, Bob Newton, tell me I'm not crazy! Did I imagine the siren that I heard!?! My husband heard it as well. Maybe it was a whistling tornado? I vote for a change in policy. NWS tornado warning = local tornado sirens sounding immediately. Please! I have no basement, and I need time to get to safety with my baby. I won't mind some false calls. No problem.

BeeBee3 10 years ago

Hey Kealing- nice headline. Taken out of context and twisting words. True J world style. Grade A journalism.

justthefacts 10 years ago

I can hear the sirens thank you. If they go off. But it's good to know that we have a policy that they will only sound if/when people on the ground spot the funnel cloud. That means when ever a tornado watch is in effect (should we pay attention to those?) those who don't have the $25-50 to spend on a weather radio need to sleep in a basement (theirs or a friends). Because they aren't going to be given any kind of middle of the night chance to get to safety in time. Perhaps we can sell off our unnecessary sirens and associated expenses of using them, and then use the resulting money to give out weather radios at to those on fixed incomes? Forgive me for being a tad upset - I've seen the after-math of tornadoes, up close and personal, just one time too many.

monkeyhawk 10 years ago

Flawed policy = gigantic liability.Funny how so many in this city love their big government except when it comes to something like this. But, I suppose we can all continue to lower our expectations every day. Confidence is quickly eroding.

Curtis Lange 10 years ago

Ridiculous. Mr. Newton was on the phone during the storm coverage on channel 6 around 1am. The way he was handling the situation was almost in a defiant, nonchalant tone of voice. I'm sorry, Mr. Newton, but the National Weather Service just issued a tornado warning due to doppler indicated rotation. At night, you do not have spotters covering every square inch of the sky. You have to have faith in the weather experts doing their job.If this is how tornado warnings are going to be handled in this county, the policy seriously needs to be looked at. The warning system should be easy: Tornado warning issued = tornado sirens sounded.

mom_of_three 10 years ago

Our windows were open, and the wind woke us up. My husband listened to the radio, and I turned on the tv. Even though it was only winds, they were still excessive, and management people in the other towns said they probably would have sounded their sirens for what we had. So the sirens didn't sound this time, but are they going to adjust the policy or re-evaluate it, for next time? That is the issue.

RKLOG 10 years ago

I agree! Totally unacceptable. What does it hurt to blow the sirens? Extra safety is just that; safety! Weather alert radio or not. It just makes sense. Tornadoes are not something to second guess. This policy must change!

dirkleisure 10 years ago

The cost of a weather radio is moot.Taxes are paid to maintain a warning system. The reason that system is maintained with tax dollars is so individual citizens can feel secure they will be notified of a warning.It is called "government" and "community" and taught in 9th grade civics.Bob Newton should just fess up - the sirens weren't activated because it was 1 a.m. and he didn't want to field a bunch of calls from people angry he woke them up.

fairylight 10 years ago

"Bob Newton, the overnight's duty officer for Douglas County Emergency Management, said, "it never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens last night."NEVER CROSSED HIS MIND! He should be removed ASAP , imo. When the National Weather Service calls for a tornado warning EMS should by God take it serious. Many people assume if they don't hear the siren then nothing is moving toward them. This is unforgivable.

newsreader 10 years ago

the sirens are dumb, you'll never be able to hear them... you think that in the middle of that storm last night the sirens would do anything? If that storm didn't wake you, the siren sure would not.

kits 10 years ago

What is the first step in getting the policy changed?

May Soo 10 years ago

Newton also said that in Douglas County, sirens are almost never activated purely because of wind.-------------------------------------------------------An 80mph wind is not just wind.

George_Braziller 10 years ago

I slept through the entire thing and even had my bedroom window open.

ralphralph 10 years ago

I left Lawrence last night about midnight, ran into this storm southwest of Ottawa, and it was a monster at that point ... horrendous winds, intense lighting, pelting hail, blinding rain ... more than you typical little T-storm. I am a former 'trained spotter' [I became one after our EP manager failed to sound the sirens for a straight-line storm that devastated my home town], and I was very concerned that I had driven my wife into a tornado ... Relihan sort of confirmed my worry on 580, between the static, by saying, I think, that there was a tornado in Osage County. If I could have sounded the sirens in the communities behind me, I would have done it. This wasn't just wind. Bob dodged a bullet. You need to change your policy to cover the event of an "inland hurricane" or whatever the buzz word of the decade might be for a brutal straight-line-wind storm. I would think, too, that if NWS actually notices what is happening and warns you, prudence might dictate action. Whaddyathink, Bob?

thomgreen 10 years ago

I'm with George, I slept through the whole thing with my bedroom window open. It's Kansas people and it's spring. He followed the procedures that have been laid out for his job. Push for a change in policy, don't attack him for doing his job as he is directed to do.

shorttrees 10 years ago

So here's the part that says it all--"it never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens last night." As emergency management director, with the area in an active NWS tornado warning, it never crossed his mind. Unacceptable!

Azazel 10 years ago

I agree that NWS tornado warning should = local tornado sirens. Fortunately, I have a weather radio and was aware of what was going on last night; but the purpose of the siren is to communicate such warnings as this. For now, however, don't wait for the local sirens; get a weather radio.

justthefacts 10 years ago

Tornado warning = tornado has been spotted on radar and/or by human. Not the same as tornado watch (one may happen, we just don't know). A warning means people need to be warned. The sirens are to warn people. Night tornadoes are the most dangerous - you can't see them coming. People need to be warned in any way possible. If we aren't going to use the sirens when the NWS issues a tornado warning, then (a) why bother to have sirens and/or (b) why bother to pay attention to the NWS?

elou 10 years ago

Please, Bob Newton, tell me I'm not crazy! Did I imagine the siren that I heard!?! My husband heard it as well. Maybe it was a whistling tornado, a much-too-late warning, an all-clear that wasn't supposed to be sounded? I vote for a change in policy. NWS tornado warning = local tornado sirens sounding immediately. Please! I have no basement, and I need time to get to safety with my baby. I won't mind some false calls. No problem.

Bassetlover 10 years ago

Let's not second guess the years of training and experience Bob Newton has had in emergency management, especially as it pertains to severe weather. He has a history of making sound judgments. To throw him under the bus for this is terribly unfair and I think the headline is a bit sensationalized. Thanks, Bob, for all your years of service.

justthefacts 10 years ago

"You want broader warnings? Get a radio."Nice advice. For people who aren't on fixed incomes. You want to donate one to such a person?If we don't sound the sirens to warn people (who may be asleep or without power) when the NWS issues a tornado WARNING (not watch) but only when we have a spotter see one, then WHY BOTHER TO have sirens, pay attention to NWS, or look at or use radar, in the first place? If "I see one coming" is the only standard by which warnings are believed, we all need to get in our cars any time the clouds pile up, so we can see them for ourselves!!

KEITHMILES05 10 years ago

Ya'll have some dumb administrators in Lawrence.Probably KSU educated?

jhyphene 10 years ago

Sounds like Newton isn't the issue, rather the policy needs revisiting.I know I want a siren alert if we are under a warning. The wind woke me up, and I was curious how big the storm was so I turned on the tv. Cable was out so I turned on the radio. That's when I found out we were under a warning. Frankly, I was shocked that it took strong winds to wake me up, then my own curiosity to turn on the radio to find out we were under a warning.Push the damn button and activate the sirens. What's the harm? Worst case scenario is people are instantly informed that we are under a warning and can act accordingly. The policy seems to push the limit on when to provide the mass alert.I reiterate my point: policy needs to be changed. How do we get that done?

ffan04 10 years ago

so what are people suppose to do when the power is out and they are asleep?

mistygreen 10 years ago

I thought these warning systems were developed to save lives? What's the point of the NWS issuing a warning if Douglas county says, naw, I don't think so...Holy cow batman!

Ben Henick 10 years ago

There is a way to fix this.[1] Through your commissioner, ask the County Commission in writing to put the issue on the agenda for an upcoming meeting (assuming this article doesn't lead them to do so as a matter of course.[2] Repeat the request at regular intervals until it is granted.[3] Attend the appropriate meeting and speak up during the public comment period.[4] Repeat this process as often as needed, taking action as recommended in the meantime.That's how local democracy works, folks. And being a pain in the neck works too, as long as you're constructive and thoughtful about it.Now, that's the by-the-book way to do it. I personally hope that this article, and our comments, will motivate the Commission to take action without needing to be asked through channels.In Boone Co., Mo., where I lived for eight years, the policy is (or at least was) to activate sirens when a warning is received from the NWS. To discover that they do things differently here was disconcerting, especially given that the Mar. 2006 microburst rolled right down the hill in front of my windows with roughly three minutes of meaningful warning.

justthefacts 10 years ago

Did I say that sirens are the perfect protection? Of course they aren't! But what good are they if we do not use them when there is a NWS issue tornado WARNING (not watch)?? Why bother to even have them if we do not turn them on when a tornado warning (not watch) has been issued?

kansassportsnutgal 10 years ago

What on earth are you thinking Bob Newton???"It never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens"Bob.... don't you care about the people in Douglas County anymore??Did all your KU rings go to your head or what???

sharper 10 years ago

And I'm sick and tired of this "warning people outside" excuse. So you think people who were out and about last night didn't deserve to be warned? Or are they already outside and can tell that they're about to get screwed over? Shouldn't they have deserved a warning? One caveat: I might be upset about this excuse even more because my brother works nights and gets off work around 2:00 a.m. If there supposed to warn people who are "outside" then they should have warned those people last night. I might be even more upset because my brother doesn't have a car and walks or bikes home from work. Don't claim that the sirens are to protect those who "are outside" and then fail to "protect" them from 70+ mph winds. Okay, I'm done ranting now...

Moderateguy 10 years ago

Does anybody have current experience with the newer weather radios? Back in the late 70's, early 80's we had one. The dang thing would go off all the time, even if it was 3:00 in the morning, and they were just issuing a watch for some area a hundred miles away. It was too much of a pain for the very rare times a warning was issued for our area. Can you set the new ones just for tornado warnings in our area or something similar?

ohjayhawk 10 years ago

Moderateguy - Yes, the new radios are quite detailed. You can set it to go off for just your county or also for surrounding counties if you like. You can even set it to go off for the specific warnings you want to be alerted to (i.e. tornado warning, svr thunderstorm warning, flood warning, etc - even down through watches).

hootman31 10 years ago

Chiming in one more time:Premise: I am not a storm-spotter, and don't know the current policy!The Storm-Spotter's rollout when there is the possibility of a Tornado, which I am guessing means: Good Condition for a Tornado (so if they are out, Tornado's are possible); in Thunderstorm Warning; and in Tornado Watches. I noticed Spotters out shortly after 5:00 last night.I am guessing the policy is (or actually should be:) Under a Tornado Watch, Thunderstorm Warning, Thunderstorm Watch (with good conditions for a Tornado), the Sirens Should Not be sounded without a Trained Person Confirming a Rotation!Under a Tornado Warning issued by the NWS, Sound the Sirens.Under a TS Watch or Warning or a Tornado Watch, only sound the sirens with a confirmed rotation, or unless it is Radar Indicated by doppler!So I pose the question: why are spotter's out in Thunderstorm Warnings & Watches? Why not just have them dispersed when we are under a Tornado Warning?Because the whole system is setup for Advanced Warning! This is Kansas, and with the right conditions, a funnel can drop out of the sky at any time, just like it did in '81.Last question: What is the Level above a Tornado Warning again?

RibMan 10 years ago

I don't know why anyone would provide cover for an obvious failure. Gambling with out lives is not part of the government's mission statement. Error on the side of caution. To shill for incompetence sets the table for more. Enabling incompetence is poor judgment at best.

Linda Endicott 10 years ago

I live in Ottawa. Earlier in the evening, during the first batch of nasty storms, Franklin Co. was put under a severe thunderstorm warning. Then the tornado sirens went off. I thought at first that it must be a glitch because of the storm, because nothing on TV indicated we were under a tornado warning. The NWS had not (and did not) issue one for Franklin Co. But I decided to listen to the sirens (which I had no difficulty hearing, even inside with the TV blaring and several fans on) and take cover anyway.Turned out that, even though the NWS had not issued a tornado warning for Fr. Co., some of those trained spotters that some of you think should be trusted more than the NWS, had seen two funnels near Ottawa. And I would rather be safe than sorry. Anyone with any sense at all should know that if the conditions are right, tornadoes can and do form in an instant. And even if those tornadoes have not touched down, they can and do touch down in an instant as well. But in the middle of the night, with a totally black sky, even the most well-trained spotter can't see a damned thing except during the flashes of lightning. Isn't this why dopplar radar was developed to begin with? To alert people of the possibility of a tornado even during the middle of the night when they can't easily be seen?Listen to the NWS, and when a warning is issued, sound the sirens. What's the problem with that? Isn't that how the system was intended to work?Radar and trained spotters are both there to compliment each other, not compete with each other. If you always wait until a tornado has actually been physically seen to pay attention, you are not going to have time to take cover.

iloveyoutoo 10 years ago

I agree completely rodentgirl....the "outdoor" excuse doesn't fly with me either. Even when they do the tests you can hear them indoors. And it's irrelevant if "most" people can't hear them indoors because that's not "all" people.

monkeyspunk 10 years ago

If you have a problem with Douglas County's policy, email Terri Smith. She is the Emergency Management Director. Ask her why, even with the threat of severe weather, the Emergency Operations Center was not active.

Danielle Brunin 10 years ago

Does anyone else think this idea of sirens being an outdoor-only warning system is very new? As far as I can tell, up until the past few years, sirens were considered to be indoor/outdoor because they were the best we had. Now with the internet, cell phones, and technology being prevalent, they have revised their position so that people don't depend on them because there are better forms of warning communication. Listening for tornado sirens during storms used to be common place and in my mind, the sirens being sounded always makes me take warnings a little more seriously. Maybe it is the creepy, apocalyptic sound, but it just does, right or wrong. I'm betting that is the case for the vast majority of adults in this area. Thoughts, anyone?

buddy2me 10 years ago

I agree with newsreader. If the sounds from the very loud, strong storms didn't wake you up, how was the very faint sounds of the sirens going to wake you up? We live in the country and do not have any sirens out where we are. We have to rely on the radio or alerts that I have sent to my cell phone as well as alerts to my kids cell phones. It's time that people take responsibility for their own actions. If you thought it was bad, why have a siren tell you to take cover. All the local news (radio and TV) were telling people to take cover. So what if the siren wasn't sounded, you were still being told to take cover, so do it. Or use a little common sense and grow up and do what you think is best for yourself or your family. We went downstairs, just because I too have been in tornados and straight line winds. I didn't want my family to pay the price of me thinking it was no big deal. So we missed a little sleep, what a small price to pay for making sure everyone was safe at my house. If people can't afford weather radios, there are many other ways to make sure you know there is bad weather coming. Also, listen to the news earlier in the evening. At 10 pm, channel 9 said that the worst of the storms still hadn't gotten here yet (HINT) that means that through the night there might be some bad weather. Take precautions!!

EarthaKitt 10 years ago

Admittedly off subject, but there are two things that I will go to the grave trying to clarify.1. It is very infrequent that a reporter writes a headline for his or her story. Print edition headlines are written at 2 a.m. by sleep-deprived copy editors who take two parts accuracy and one part clever, mix well and then force it into a space for only about six words. Good luck doing that job and not pissing off somebody on a regular basis. I assume the Web editors write the headlines for stories that break between press runs. I won't be the one to judge whether this was/is a good headline. I will, however, point out that the reporter very probably isn't the culprit for putting it online. 2. When two cars meet from opposite directions at a four-way stop, the car turning left yields to the car passing straight through the intersection. It's really quite beautiful in its simplicity. Surely there once was a day when I wasn't the ONLY person with a driver's license to be armed with this information.That's all. Sorry I'm (mostly) off the subject. You can yell at me for it the next time you wave me to turn in front of your vehicle at a four-way stop. I'll be the girl with the rolled-up windows who is either screaming at you or passing a kidney stone.

iloveyoutoo 10 years ago

"So we missed a little sleep, what a small price to pay for making sure everyone was safe at my house. "And sounding a siren is a small price to pay if it saves lives. This isn't about being a responsible adult. There are plenty of responsible adults that don't have radios, tvs, or telephones for whatever reason, therefore there should be other ways of warning others. It's always better to be safe than sorry. And again I will state that it would be a small price to pay had the sirens gone off and nothing come of it because I could rest assured knowing that at least the county in which I live took the "precaution" of notifying me of potential danger.

ksdivakat 10 years ago

rodent girl....the siren system was designed originally in the cold war days, and it was designed to warn people of incoming bombs or attacks. When the cold war was over the Government looked at all these sirens and said what are we gonna do about this?? So someone came up with the idea to use them in the event of severe weather. Technology has well advanced since the sirens were first erected, and what was 5-10 yrs ago isnt today. There are alot of people who are nowhere near a siren...what of them?? How are they to be warned?? The ingredients just simply were not there last night at 1 in the morning. When the doppler indicated the tornado, they NEVER said it indicated rotation....they always called it the it was a doppler radar indicated tornado, and if you actually LISTEN to what the weathermen are telling you when that happens, they always say that it doesnt mean there is a tornado on the ground, but it means radar is picking up information that there MAY be a tornado on the ground.The problem is in safety, it used to be 10 years ago or better that they would sound the sirens everytime the wind blew...the result was that when there really was a tornado, nobody listened and thought it was bogus. This is why they are hesitant to blow the sirens, its playing the "crying wolf game"This was appearant in 2003 when the tornado went through here, the sirens were sounding and people were coming out of their houses and watching it! Children were still riding their bikes! We dont want to create an environment of disbelief, but rather when the time warrants and the sirens sound those who can hear them take cover.Also keep in mind that EOC is in direct contact with the city police and the sheriffs dept at all times during an event like this, the police chief or sheriff could have made a decision at any time to blow the sirens, but obviously what they were also seeing was not enough to warrant that.The storm had died down considerably by the time it actually hit the city limits, so this is why it was not sounded.

reason 10 years ago

we live by the holidome and i wouldnt have been able to hear nothing because @ 1:15am all we can hear is a freight train running over my house--sure would have been nice to hear the siren before since we live on a slab!!!

akt2 10 years ago

Battery operated radios and flashlights are a basic necessity. Don't count on sirens. They are subject to failure. Next time you don't hear the sirens does that mean no one is blowing them, they are blowing but you can't hear them because of the storm, or they have failed?

Tony Holladay 10 years ago

It's POLICY that needs to be changed. Not Newton!Tornadoes, Wall clouds, etc are EXTREMELY hard to spot in the night time hours. Just ask any trained spotter. If the National Weather Service puts us in a Tornado Warning anytime between sunset and sunrise the sirens should sound whether a Tornado is confirmed by a spotter or not.

acoupstick 10 years ago

"What I want to know is why are people waiting for a siren to give them a cue to take cover when they are afraid? When you hear the thunder booming and the wind blowing, you don't need the government to tell you to take shelter."My sentiments exactly. It's springtime in Kansas. If you pay attention to forecasts and the actual weather outside your door, you know when things are getting dicey. I went to bed after the 9:30 storm and woke up around 1 am to be alert and watchful since I have a young family and no basement. If I had a house with a basement, my entire family would have slept in it all night, period. Be responsible for yourselves.

Tom Jones 10 years ago

OK....IF there was a tornado sighted on the ground you will know about it. SkyWarn was in the field for hour and a half prior the the tornado in 03 that slammed the SW part of Lawrence. The sirens sounded 27 min before that happened. The "OUTDOOR" warning sirens are just that, they are meant to warn people of a "SIGHTED" Funnel or tornado OUTDOORS. It is every citizens responsability to know about the weather,and have a weather radio and a plan how to act. It's not like the forcast for Douglas County for the 3-5 days prior had been for the chance of Severe Weather, and it is not like the Storm Prediction Center had Lawrence smack dab in the middle of the Moderate risk of Severe weather. Come on people. Skywarns trains year round to keep the citizens of Douglas County safe. That is exacly what they did last night and every other night they go out. There is always going to be people who complain. I'm sure if the sirens would have sounded all the same people who be complaining about the fact that the sirens did sound.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years ago

"City opens dropoff site for storm debris" Uhhhhhh......what storm?? Bob Newton didn't hear anything that crossed his mind to warn us. What storm??? Might it be the non-storm that tore up trees on North Iowa street????? The non-storm that tipped over the electric polls on North Iowa????. Or the un-storm that knocked the sign off of the industry in north Lawrence????? Mr. Newton, you need to review your elements that cause your mind to cross that someone in Lawrence might get killed from your indefensible caution. We are in significant danger from this "official" waiting for his mind to cross while winds rip up people's property and endanger folks lives.

domino 10 years ago

I would suggest to everyone who complained about the sirens not being blown last night to do at least one, if not both of the following:1. Talk to you local city/county commission and find out what the criteria are for activating the sirens. If you feel it is necessary, do what you have to do to get the current policy changed.2. Find out what you have to do to become a trained spotter - go to the classes - get called out every time there is severe weather and you won't have to worry about being caught without warning - you will be out there knowing what is going on!

yoornotmee 10 years ago

"I won't mind some false calls."Seriously! As the cliche goes, "better safe than sorry".

iloveyoutoo 10 years ago

I don't understand why people honestly think that sirens would desensitize people. In my opinion the sirens are not used very often at all. And this is still from my personal observation - but I feel that they usually are only used when there IS a tornado warning, which is why I was wondering all night long why they weren't used last night.

Compy 10 years ago

I would have been unhappy if the sirens went off. I was sleeping soundly! Don't wake me unless someone has SEEN a tornado, please. I don't need to freak out because of a little storm that might possibly produce a tornado. I'll freak out when I see A TORNADO.

Puff_Dragon 10 years ago

Yes please, go ahead and sound the sirens. That was the most horrific sound I have ever heard during a storm in Lawrence in 12 years. I went to turn on the t.v. and the power went out. So I'm standing there in my boxer shorts with a flashlight thinking this is it. I live in a slab home so my options aren't great to get anywhere soon enough. So go ahead and sound the sirens. Thanks !

Danielle Brunin 10 years ago

ksdivacat,Thanks for your thoughts! I'm aware of all the things that you mentioned and I have a family member who works in meteorology so we debate these issues frequently (I have to admit, I resent the implication that I don't understand or listen to what a "doppler-indicated" tornado is. I'm a scientist, and a trained storm spotter so I'm not completely oblivious to these things.) However, how do you propose we change the mindset that so many us of have? I have a weather radio that thankfully scared the pee out of me several times last night so I wasn't taken by surprise when the storm hit. ;) My point was, listening for sirens validates the danger for many people, myself included. How can we overcome that? In addition, how can we distribute low cost or no cost weather radios and get people to use them, particularly the elderly who may have the same mindset as myself (although admittedly I'm not elderly). There must be a way to do it...

thelonious 10 years ago

In 1977 in Sedalia, Missouri, a Tornado hit the SW part of town and destroyed dozens of homes and totally demolished an elementary school. No one died - know why? The local EMS person on duty sounded the sirens 15 minutes before the storm hit, giving residents (and the elementary school) time to get prepared. He sounded the sirens even though his only report was a citizen report of a tornado. Had he waited for NWS or local "trained spotters", many people and children would have probably died. He was (and still is) considered a hero in Sedalia for "breaking protocol".So honestly, what is to debate here? With a NWS issued tornado warning (they do not issue these lightly), favorable conditions, non-verified reports of a tornado SE of Topeka, and the more dangerous nighttime conditions, how on earth can you justify not sounding the sirens?If this is "county policy", then it needs to be changed. I'd much rather spend a night or two in my basement each year during a "false alarm" than die in my bed at 2am because our local EMS people were "waiting for confirmation". By the time you get that, it is too late! The idea is to provide adequate warning time.BTW, our power was out, so the TV warning was of no use either. I had a NOAA weather radio keeping me informed.Which is good, because Douglas County EMS was apparently asleep.

Joel Hood 10 years ago

Normally, I would be watching TV to see what was happening. But, when the power goes off when you are asleep & the battery in the NOAA radio is dead, a siren going off would have been fantastic. I don't want to bash Bob Newton, because he didn't write the policy - his quote just makes him sound like an idiot - and I'm sure he's not an idiot. To me, this is a no brainer - if the NWS says "potential tornado" - blow the damn siren!! This is especially necessary at night when people are sleeping and local spotters have very poor visibility. Come on Douglas County EMS, change the policy and don't get off point about sirens being heard outdoors...

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 10 years ago

I can remember, years ago, when the tornado sirens were sound for the entire county no matter where the possible tornado was located or heading. A lot of people, and rightly so, complained about all the unnecassary panic caused by a siren for a storm 20-30 miles away. The current system worked as it should. There was no tornado, therefore, no need for a warning siren. If one wants to be warned about a storm or high wind, buy a weather radio.

justthefacts 10 years ago

For what it is worth, I have never complained about tornado sirens going off. Never. Better safe then sorry. I intend to go without a few meals to save up the $$ to buy a weather radio, now that I realize a National Weather Tornado warning will not automatically result in the sirens sounding (I live close enough to one to hear it, even in the worst of storms). You know, there are people who have no TV, radio, or computer to check on warnings. I feel real sorry for the people who have options other then sirens (or their own eyes) and no other way of knowing if a tornado is in the area (other then to stand outside watching for one - in the dark sometimes). Silly me, I'd thought that was the purpose of having the siren system!? To warn some people a tornado warning had been issued?! Why have the siren system at all if it does not sound in the middle of the night right after a tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather System?

rcr 10 years ago

Does anyone have any idea how many of these "trained spotters" were actually out at 1AM?It's not like this was a bad storm. After all it only......Tore off 1/3 of the gymnasium roof at Langston HughesCrushed a mobile home in North LawrenceBlew the roof off Whelan's LumberHad winds in excess of 80 mphBlew out power to as many as 8,700 Westar customersAnd the thought to sound the sirens never entered his mind?

Wendy magillicutty 10 years ago

I knew it was gonna be a bad night when it hit 80 degrees; I am not new to the area. I have two weather radios, one in the bedroom and one ground level. I was aware the conditions were ripe, I double checked both radios and they are set to DG County. They can (and are) set to watch surrounding counties. BIG however, this radio does all or nothing (all counties or the ONE selected) Didn't know that when I first purchased, I thought I could watch 6 counties at once. Anyhoo, NEITHER radio awakened me last night. The wind slammed our door shut, that woke me up. Our power was out, so no way to check TV or internet. I reached over to turn the radio on (no it wasn't off, it was on stand-by, otherwise I would hear 24 hour broadcasting of weather) and heard "take cover immediately" and "tornado warning in the following counties: KS: DG", blah blah blah..heart pumping too loud in ears to hear the rest. As my husband was getting our toddler out of bed, I was grabbing the cell phone and candles. We headed to the basement, radio in hand. To be frank, even with the NOAA broadcasting it was rather confusing. Turns out there was a severe thunderstorm watch AND warning, a Tornado watch and warning...and then the tornado WARNING was cancelled. Then reinstated. Jeshush H christo on a crutch, man, what the ??? The cell had weak signal as I furiously tried to get to and see the radar for myself. That's where I found the 19 different watches and warnings (hyperbole). OH, and great Dopplar radar with a huge swath of RED SEVERE weather. Nice radar except it's always about 10 minutes old. I was going to comment on whether or not the sirens went off but now I'm not totally sure where I stand. I appreciate the prudence, but I was as prepared as can be and didn't know of the warning until already awakened. A siren would have been a wake-up to listen to the radio but definitely would have sent my blood pressure up a notch. Ya know, I'd love to hear what the deaf and hearing impaired would say about this argument. They CANT depend on sirens or even radios. Power outage? no TV or internet. The scary fact is, there is no way to be completely prepared without being completely paranoid and moving into a bomb shelter. I'm glad we are having this discussion and that everyone (or a lot) will be reviewing their own plan of action. It's spring in Kansas. My neighbors are busy cutting tree limbs off a tree, most of its limbs already are resting on their chimney.

Bunny_Hotcakes 10 years ago

I am a jackass, but so is Bob. Let me explain.We have a weather radio. Said weather radio went off twice last night. You know what I did? Got up and shut it off. The second time was for what I now know was a tornado warning. I looked outside and thought "wow, that is some really serious wind." As I went back to bed, I thought "well if it's that serious I guess the sirens will go off."Haaaaaaaaaa! Oh I crack myself up. Sirens. Pfffft.I will not make the mistake of waiting for the sirens again. We should have been taking cover last night. That's my bad for relying on the sirens. I don't know why I did--they didn't alert us about the microburst either. I won't ever wait for them again, seeing as we have this lamebrained policy that apparently require spotters with premonition and night vision goggles, and maybe ninja powers.Screw you, Douglas County. Screw you too, Bob Newton. You have discretion with the sirens, and you blew it by not sounding them.I've seen these radios at Hy-Vee for $29.95: suggest you get one if you don't have one already. If you know someone who can't afford one, why not shower them with an unexpected gift? It could save their life.

Sigmund 10 years ago

akt2 (Anonymous) says: "Battery operated radios and flashlights are a basic necessity. Don't count on sirens. They are subject to failure."The only "failure" here was a failure to sound in the early morning when most people were asleep and a very dangerous and potentially damaging storm hit Lawrence. If your point that this was a "judgment call" then I question the judgment. I heard on the drive home that the storm that hit Gladstone, Missouri (just 45 miles away) contained "two small tornadoes," but were too small to be seen by radar.

monkeyspunk 10 years ago

Duplenty, you argument is weak at best. How do all of those gadgets somehow make it OK to not fire the sirens off last night when the National Weather Service issued a warning? If all of those things are sufficient, and you think the county agrees with you, why is the county installing MORE sirens throughout the county? Why would they spend our money for something you and they think is unnecessary. This isn't about necessity, its about policy. The policy is crap, and should be changed. And while the EM Director won't admit the change, I can guarantee that the next time the NWS issues a Tornado warning for us, the sirens are blaring. And I would bet that this is the last time Bob Newton ever comments on a policy he creates. If there exists a tool to protect lives, shouldn't it always be utilized when the situation calls for it. Every other local government seems to agree that an NWS warning is enough to sound the sirens, what makes Terri Smith and Douglas County special?

simplykristib 10 years ago

That is sooo wrong not to blow the sirens in Lawrence when a Tornado Warning is issued regardless if a tornado is seen or not. Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning. Lawrence emergency management better change its thinking on this policy real fast. I know that tornado warning sirens are really meant for people who are outside but not everyone owns a weather radio. I urge everyone to purchase a weather radio with SAME technology.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years ago

I am worried about the nonchalance of out emergency personnel in Lawrence. Sound the sirens when the National Weather Service issues a warning. If that is not our policy writ in stone, it should be. To leave the decision up to the judgment of whoever happens to be on duty is plain stupid. Our lives are in the balance, and we'd rather rely on the scientific data and analysis coming from the NWS, than people trying to see a tornado in the middle of the pitch black night.

Doug Fisher 10 years ago

Does anybody know if Paula Phillips still works for the Emergency Management? I always thought she did a good job handling the warnings for Douglas County.

kathy white 10 years ago

KSA 21-3503 NOT A WISE LOG IN !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years ago

It's obvious: we've got a "heckuva job Brownie" manning the tornado sirens. But the real question here people is what are we going to do about this incompetence before people get killed?Complaining on this board does nothing. Anybody here know to whom we should write emails or letters demanding action? Who has hiring/firing power over the do-nothing emergency managers? Is this something to take up with the city commission? Who on this board knows?

rcr 10 years ago

"the siren system was designed originally in the cold war days, and it was designed to warn people of incoming bombs or attacks."I guess in this case we would have to wait until the trained spotters actually see the bomb before we would get to hear sirens?

yankeelady 10 years ago

We should all make our views known to the county, obviously the procedures haven't kept up with the radar technology. i would much rather have the sirens go off and not get hit than the other way around. Marion, hope the puppies weren't too traumatized. We had a dog stuck in a pen when a tree came down years ago, he never was the same when it stormed, always tried to get under something. I can't blame him. He was just too big to fit, but as long as his head was hidden he was ok.

ModSquadGal 10 years ago

I'm just going to go ahead and say it... WTF? Isn't the whole PURPOSE of the storm spotters and chasers and whirly gigs inside tornadoes to give people AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE to take cover?Doesn't it therefore follow that when TRULY severe weather strikes and it's 1 f'ing 30 in the morning, and the power is out, and people are startled out of sleep not knowing what's going on, maybe, JUST MAYBE, a tornado siren would be a good idea even if it's a bit conservative? Seriously - have YOU looked outside on a stormy night into cloudy, stormy, windy skies and been able to SEE anything?I thought that's what advanced super duper mondo power doppler sky scan first warning was all about. Maybe I was mistaken. Not all of us are meterologists in a bunker with a battery-controlled radar screen. Sheesh.

mechman 10 years ago

funny when bob newton worked for klwn he would piss & moan when they would NOT sound sirens

Godot 10 years ago

Well, at least Newton was proven to be wrong about not sounding sirens when that F5 tornado wiped out all of Douglas County Friday morning.

Godot 10 years ago

FGS, how did people ever survive before there were government controlled sirens? It must have been hell.

storm 10 years ago

Sound the alarm like you're soposed to when there's a tornado. Those of us outside will notify the ones inside who didn't hear it. And then through word of mouth we'll call those that don't have a weather radio or those who don't have electricity. That's how it works, that is what people in tornado alley expect. (LJW, quit writing inflammatory headlines. )Hecka of a job, Brownie...I mean Newton.

yoornotmee 10 years ago

By the way, you could also sign up with to receive a text message alert when there is severe weather for your zip code.

rcr 10 years ago

duplenty (Anonymous) says:"You people are morons. Turn on a TV, turn on a radio. Bob Newton is very good at his job. Had you been listening to 6news at 1am, you would have heard him discribe the situation to Jennifer Schack, live in real time, and explain why there were no sirens."It's a little hard to turn on the TV when your power has been knocked out.

Godot 10 years ago

What I want to know is why are people waiting for a siren to give them a cue to take cover when they are afraid? When you hear the thunder booming and the wind blowing, you don't need the government to tell you to take shelter.

sweetiepie 10 years ago

As I understand it, the reason that more people didn't get killed in Greensburg was because the emergency management guy told the dispatcher to sound the sirens and keep them going. But that was a real tornado. The problem is that you may not know if it's a "real tornado" until you're in the middle of it. I woke up when the wind started blowing and turned the radio on. KPR was saying "take cover immediately," but I sort of waited around, because I hadn't heard the sirens and I "know" (or thought I did) that they sound the sirens when there is a tornado warning. But once I decided that the people on the radio were serious, I was in the basement within 1-2 minutes. Can you imagine the outcry if that storm last night had dropped a tornado or two on Lawrence and killed some people?

vega 10 years ago

"What I want to know is why are people waiting for a siren to give them a cue to take cover when they are afraid? When you hear the thunder booming and the wind blowing, you don't need the government to tell you to take shelter.""My sentiments exactly. It's springtime in Kansas. If you pay attention to forecasts and the actual weather outside your door, you know when things are getting dicey. I went to bed after the 9:30 storm and woke up around 1 am to be alert and watchful since I have a young family and no basement. If I had a house with a basement, my entire family would have slept in it all night, period. Be responsible for yourselves."Of course - every man for himself! Who needs a warning system, meteorologists, sirens etc. Who needs the county emergency management (no need for Bob Newton either), it is springtime in Kansas, be alert at 1:30 AM and hope for the best when you try to get to the nearest shelter with kids and old people in your family in 5 seconds after you see or somebody on the radio confirms actually seeing a tornado across the street - there you have it.I think we should initiate signing a petition to the City Council requesting the change of these procedures, the sirens should go off when NWS issues a tornado warning. Before it is too late - since it still is the springtime in Kansas.

road_Runner 10 years ago

I actually wasn't going to say one thing or another about this until I read this: stong EF-2 hit Stull, KS (NW side of Clinton Lake) around 1:06 am. Just by looking at the map, Lawrence was next in line. I'll admit, I was upset that the sirens did not go off, however gave the EM the benefit of a doubt. However, after reading that there was indeed a tornado that touched down in Douglas county and relatively close to Lawrence, this is utterly and completely unacceptable.

true_patriot 10 years ago

Thanks for the info Road_Runner - that finally makes a bit more sense trying to reconcile the various accounts. One spotter sighted a funnel from Haskell Ave and 458 (couple miles south of Lawrence) and that event coupled with the Osage Co tornado and the NWS Tornado Warning for Douglas County made us very surprised that we were not hearing sirens during the tornado warning.I'm sure the EOC was doing their best to avoid warnings unless a specific threat was confirmed, but given the difficulty in confirming with fewer spotters available and being in the middle of the night, given the production of tornados nearby and the sighting of a funnel so close to town, and given the unpredictability of such potential-laden violent cells, EOC may have erred on the side of too little caution in this case. I also don't understand the complaints about trigger-happy the NWS is with tornado warnings here and about blowing the sirens too often. That frankly is nonsense. Tornado warnings are relatively rare events for a given county given the length and intensity of our storm season, and unless the poster is mistaking the montly tests of the sirens he or she must be having hallucinations. By the "crying wolf" logic, we shouldn't ever test the sirens either, because will get used to them and ignore them.The poster that said the sirens "validate concern" had it exactly right. When a storm is capable of producing the same damage as a low-end tornado then they need to deemphasize the semantic obsession of classification and sound the sirens to let people know to take any current warning seriously, because the resulting weather damage to homes, people, and property is at best the same as low-end tornadic events and at worst it produces a tornadic event that kills or injures people.

mwwag 10 years ago

That is sooo wrong not to blow the sirens in Lawrence when a Tornado Warning is issued regardless if a tornado is seen or not. Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning. By the time a tornado is spotted which can be hard to do at night with heavy rains it may be to late for some to take cover. My family and I have one those weather radios and have never been able to get it to work like everyone says they do. So it did us no good having it last night. I would have been glad to have heard the sirens so I could have gotten my two children up and moved them down to the basement for the remainder of the storm just to be on the safe side. I remember the so called micro burst from 2006 way to clearly, it would have been nice then if the sirens would have sounded earlier than they did. I had just had surgery a few weeks prior to that day and could not move fast or lift the kids who were asleep. Thankfully my husband and I had rolled over and saw the stuff in our back yard blowing like we did and were able to take action fast. Last night seemed like a repeat to me. There we were asleep then I rolled over and stuff in our back yard started blowing like crazy. Do everyone a favor and sound the sirens next time to give everyone ample time to get to safety. I would rather hear the sirens and rush to safety and it be a false alarm than see and hear the wind blowing things in my back yard like that and have to jump out of bed and worry about gettin to safety fast enough.

Sigmund 10 years ago

sinecurePronunciation: &&char114&& sÄ»-ni-&&char114&&kyuÌr Function: noun Etymology: Medieval Latin sine cura without cure (of souls)1 archaic : an ecclesiastical benefice without cure of souls.2: an office or position that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income.Usage: Bob Newton whose sinecure as the overnight's duty officer for Douglas County Emergency Management, said, "it never crossed my mind to activate the tornado warning sirens last night."

RibMan 10 years ago

It was absurd and dangerous not to have turned on the sirens. I can't tell you how many people I talked to that echoed that sentiment today. They/we were furious. We are lucky people weren't hurt or killed. This was an outrage. I don't think our tax dollars were well spent. The more I think about this, the more mad I get. To hide behind a regulation is what bureaucrats do. The public was not well served.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years ago

Here's the problem: All the weather people, spotters, and siren operators were so concerned about classifying a dangerous event, that it never occurred to them to warn sleeping people of the dangerous event, regardless of the classification. Maybe I'm just splitting hairs here, but if 80 mph straight winds are headed my way, go ahead and wake me up. I wasn't angry that a waterfall was coming through my light fixture in my kitchen. I wasn't angry that my barbeque grill got demolished. I wasn't angry that I have no idea where my lawn furniture went. I am very angry that I did not get my wife and 5 month old daughter out of our 2nd story bedrooms to safety before sustained 80 mph winds hit my house and scared the bejeezus out of them. Note to siren operators: Err on the side of caution, fellas.

Compy 10 years ago

After reading the rest of the thread, I must reiterate: Thank you for not blowing the sirens! People, there was a "Tornado Warning" for HOURS proceeding the storm. I went to sleep fully aware that a warning was in effect (thx NPR), and that I would be awakened by sirens IF and when a Real Tornado was observed. I've never heard of sirens being blown for a WARNING. Other than that, pay attention to the weather. Lawrence is in Kansas. Watch the Wizard of Oz again. I don't know.

jayhawk72 10 years ago

I live in a 100 year old house. PLEASE sound the sirens. I was woke up by my husband blindly putting on his pants and trying to tell me to wake the kids, all the while, looking out the window at the rain blowing sideways. I got up and thought "no sirens, we'll be fine." Went to the bathroom and heard a HUGE crash. Cats were running everywhere, dog was crying, and all I could think of was that my 12 year old daughter's upstairs bedroom roof just blew off. Running upstairs, I discover that a tree in our yard broke in half from the wind and fell on our bedroom roof and bounced into the delapidated house next door. No damage done. But it could have been much worse. Do these people get paid to warn us or is it a hobby to feed their fascination with violent storms?Either way...we spend enough money keeping our storm warning system working, when are we going to benefit from it? Every first and third Monday of the storm season we get our television interrupted for their tests. What happens when city blocks lose power as we did? That announcment over cablevision isn't going to help people without power. Sound the sirens! It's the only way we will know. And who cares if there hasn't been a tornado spotted. Those winds are doing enough damage to warrant the sounding of the sirens. Have a groovy day! :o)

farmersdaughter 10 years ago

The sirens sounded in Perry last night. We live outside of Perry about 2 miles. Thank god we heard them. There was no electricity at the moment but we knew what to do when we heard the sirens and got our kids up and went to the basement. Exactly what somenone is suppose to do when the sirens go off. Thank you whoever in Perry made the decision to sound the sirens, although, we did not have a tornado the inconvience of getting everyone up and to the basement was totally worth it. Please please, city of Perry, do not take "lessons" from Mr. Newton!

Reason McLucus 10 years ago

Sounds like Douglas County needs some new personnel and policies in its Emergency Management office.I remember the 1981 tornado. I was living in one of the apartment buildings SE of 23rd and Iowa. They had to rely on spotters then because only the strongest tornadoes could be detected on radar as a hook formation. Today's radar can detect rotation before a tornado actually "drops" to the ground where it can be detected by spotters. Here in Reno County the generally flat terrain allows spotters to see funnels many miles away. the terrain in Douglas County hampers the ability of spotters to see what is happening. some tornadoes like the one that destroyed Greensburg last year occur at night when they can only be detected by chance if they are back lit by lightening or if they are low enough to blow transformers.

farmersdaughter 10 years ago

Godot, I'm not saying we wouldn't have survived.....just saying how much faster we reacted hearing them.

Bunny_Hotcakes 10 years ago

My husband and I signed up for severe weather text messages from's free, even. (For a fee they'll call your landline phone, too.) We have a weather radio, but we figure the text messages are a nice backup.Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pack my "go bag." I'm not going to be caught with my pants down again, and I'm sure as hell not going to rely on the County to help keep me safe.

ksdivakat 10 years ago

rodentgirl16 ........I think that finally someone has touched on finding a solution instead of complaining!!!The thing is, this is not the first time dg co has went under a tornado warning and the sirens did not sound. per the national weather service it was an EF0 that touched out at stull and it touched for 10 what about them?? Would the sirens have helped them?? ahh but you know the answer to that, not at all because why?? There are no sirens in the county! So now if we want to be fair and sound the sirens everytime we get a gustfront then we need to be fair and put sirens out in the country right?? SO that means that all of our taxes go up so that this can cover these tornado warnings. So thats the first thing, give the people what they want....if its sirens they want then lets give them sirens, but lets give EVERYONE sirens.secondly let pass out weather radios just like fire dept does smoke detectors, those who are elderly or met income requirements lets give them the radios and teach them how to use them.. Those would be my suggestions, and by the way, heads up, it was 65-70 MPH winds that ripped through here..not 80, as was first reported.

KEITHMILES05 10 years ago

"Never crossed my mind"..........uhmmm, you even have a mind?

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