Letters to the Editor

Siren policy

May 9, 2008


To the editor:

Why is Douglas County so reluctant to warn its residents about tornadoes? When the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning last Thursday night, sirens did not go off.

I was listening to the radio the next day and heard Bob Newton say that in order for the county to sound the sirens, someone has to visually confirm a tornado, that the National Weather Service issuing a tornado warning was not enough.

I am outraged at this criteria because nighttime tornadoes are rarely seen. By the time one is spotted in the dark, it might be too late. If the NWS has issued a tornado warning, that's reason enough to sound the sirens. Better safe than sorry.

Newton was explaining that they didn't want to desensitize people by sounding the sirens too often. I don't believe the NWS issues a tornado warning very often - once a year, maybe? I don't believe sounding the sirens once a year would desensitize people.

We all know, especially after Greensburg, that nighttime tornadoes are very dangerous. One shouldn't have to be visually confirmed (in the dark!) before Douglas County sounds the sirens.

I hope the criteria are changed, at least for nighttime hours.

Katie Jennings,


LogicMan 9 years, 11 months ago

"sirens did not go off"Weren't they already off? :-)My only concern would be that they'd go to the opposite extreme and have an itchy finger. No one would get much sleep in the spring.

justthefacts 9 years, 11 months ago

I agree with 150%. If we had 20 warnings per season, I might buy the "Desensitizing" argument. But we do not actually have that many warnings in a years time, do we (I have yet to see the #'s - come on LJW do some reporting will you?? - how many tornado warnings were issued for Lawrence and/or Douglas county in the last few years time?)? And if the policy is to wait for human spotters to see the tornadoes, why have radar? A common sense use of sirens dictates they be used at least at night (when it is often too dark for most human spotters to see anything real well), any time the NWS issues a tornado warning for the area in question. If we do not use the sirens to warn of a torndado being spotted - by humans or radar - then why bother to have sirens in the first place?

Speakout 9 years, 11 months ago

Well, Logicman, I would rather lose a little sleep than be sleeping forever.

Reaper2K 9 years, 11 months ago

I live on the west side of town, just west of 23rd and Wakarusa. In a high wind, it is nearly impossible to hear the siren. Yes, I have a weather alert radio. The same can't be said for all Lawrence residents.Something needs to be done to assure that those of us on the front lines of potential danger (because storms generally move from the west to the east) have adequate warning to find safety. We need to make sure that the sirens can be heard and we need to use them! Do the job or we'll find someone who will!

justthefacts 9 years, 11 months ago

rediculous?? Spelling 101..........If you cannot hear sirens when the storm is coming, the sirens won't work. But, thankfully, most of the time the noisy winds come AFTER the warning is sounded. If not, why bother to HAVE sirens, let alone use them?

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 11 months ago

Guardian, KSA seems to have a compusive need to argue with others. His diatribes as soooo long, most people just page on past them.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 11 months ago

okay, there was a tornado on the ground west of town. I was listening to the spotters, and apart from not being able to see the tornado, they did report the high straightline winds, which NWS also warned for in there warning. apart from the tornado, shouldn't the sirens have sounded for the high winds? the initial coverage of this subject indicated that leavenworth Co has that in their policy. the straightline winds were what caused all the damage in town this time. the spotters saw that coming it seemed.

Jim Phillips 9 years, 11 months ago

KSA- I really wouldn't argue too much with some of these people. Remember, Darwin knew what he was talking about.

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