This is government in action. Congratulations to Douglas County officials for responding so quickly to public requests to re-examine the county's emergency siren policy. County residents registered concern about the sirens not being sounded during a storm in the early morning hours of May 2. The National Weather Service later confirmed that a tornado touched down in Douglas County during the storm.
This week, less than three weeks later, county commissioners received a recommendation from the emergency management advisory board and supported a new policy that responds to the public's concern. All that remains is formal adoption of the policy.
The previous policy of requiring visual confirmation of a tornado before sounding the sirens probably made sense at one time when weather monitoring equipment was less sophisticated and a visual sighting was the best way to confirm a tornado was on the ground. Sounding the sirens whenever the weather service reported a likely tornado might have resulted in so many false alarms that the public would have quit paying attention.
With today's sophisticated radar systems, however, the new policy, which calls for sirens to be sounded whenever the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, is a good one. Tornado warnings are only issued an average of about twice a year, according to county records, and the ability to detect tornados with radar is far more precise than it once was. Especially at night, when visual confirmation is difficult, following the weather service's lead is sound policy for the county.
The quick action on this policy should reassure residents that county officials are willing to listen to concerns and implement positive changes when they are needed. Good job.