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Archive for Saturday, July 20, 2013

40 years ago: Standard policy for weather-warning sirens not yet settled

July 20, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for July 20, 1973:

Douglas County commissioners were planning to meet with the county civil defense director to discuss a firm policy for the use of the new county disaster siren warning system. The sirens, which had been installed earlier this year, had the original intent of being sounded only to warn of tornadoes, but they had been sounded at 12:38 a.m. today in response to a severe thunderstorm warning. H. H. "Chuck" Belote, civil defense director, defended his decision to sound the warning during this morning's storms, which had produced winds of 22 miles per hour, saying, "You can never tell when a tornado will form in an severe storm, and past experience tells us that severe damage can be caused when there is not a tornado.... If I feel the danger is great enough, I will not wait for a definite sighting or a tornado warning. I will take action." Belote pointed out that many local residents had been extremely critical when, during the last two severe windstorms, the sirens had not been sounded until after most of the damage had occurred. Belote added that he had not sounded an "all-clear" this morning and would not sound one in future storms. "People have radios," he said, "and they can listen to them for instructions on when all is clear. Once you have awakened everyone for the storm, there is no sense in awakening them again."

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