Sound Off

What conditions must be met to sound a tornado siren? Why did they sound it on May 21 when we were under a tornado warning and all of the tornadoes were east and south of us?

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Teri Smith said the county’s outdoor warning sirens are activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for Douglas County or when local officials determine a tornado threat to the area exists, including based on reports from trained spotters and law enforcement officers. Smith said the sirens were sounded countywide on the evening of May 21 because the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Douglas County based on what spotters saw in Shawnee County. The storm system also appeared to be moving into Douglas County. “That was all the information we had. It was very sudden, and storms were producing very rapidly. Tornadoes were coming with a majority of them,” Smith said. She said her office later modified the warning to only include the northwestern part of the county when officials received more information about the storm. Later that night, storm system warning sirens were sounded in southern Douglas County only, Smith said. No major damage was reported in Douglas County due to those storms.


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