AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Starting this year, Amarillo's Emergency Management team will manage its tornado sirens differently.
In past years, a single siren in Amarillo couldn't be turned on without sounding all of them. Residents said the approach caused confusion about which neighborhoods were actually in danger. In order to help clear up confusion, the agency now has the ability to tailor the sirens to which area is facing the most immediate threat.
"We are working this year to try to focus the warning a little bit so we don't unnecessarily warn people who may not be in the hazard area of the storm," Amarillo Emergency Management coordinator Kevin Starbuck said.
As a storm moves through Amarillo, Starbuck and his team will have more control of where the sirens will sound.
Still, Starbuck says there may be some instances where all sirens will sound. The average lead time for a tornado warning is between 12 and 15 minutes. Storms can move in quickly, and which areas are most in danger isn't always clear. In these situations, Starbuck says time is most valuable.
"We typically base our warning off of the tornado warning and we work very closely with the National Weather Service," Starbuck said. "When the sirens sound, that means there is a threat to our community and you need to take action immediately. It is not time to go outside and see what's going on and assimilate the information, it is time to immediately take action to help protect your family."
Starbuck adds the alarms are intended for outdoor purposes and residents should also be prepared with indoor equipment in case they cannot hear the alarm from inside their home.
"This is the time of year to be prepared," Starbuck said. "The outdoor warning sirens are exactly that -- an outdoor warning system. People should not count on a siren to alert them of a severe weather threat when severe weather is threatening they should have a weather radio they should watch and monitor a local television meteorologist," Starbuck said.
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