February 3, 2012

Storms bring record rain to Wichita, set off city sirens

Nearly 3 inches of rain fell in Wichita on Friday – easily breaking the record for the date – but the strong thunderstorms that rolled through the area before dawn contained no severe weather.

Emergency management officials are trying to determine why at least one tornado siren sounded at the height of the storm.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Robb Lawson said 2.75 inches of rain fell in Wichita between midnight and 6 p.m., easily breaking the old Feb. 3 record of 1.09 inches set in 1955. For the most part, he said, the rainfall moved out of the area before sundown. Forecasters were predicting a 20 percent chance of rain today with a high of 40.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said 911 dispatchers started receiving reports about 2:30 a.m. Friday from people who were hearing sirens from the Riverside, College Hill, downtown and Harry and Oliver areas.

He indicated that intense lightning associated with the storm may have caused the false warning.

Sedgwick County is in the process of converting its outdoor warning system to a new one, Duncan said, and the devices suspected of malfunctioning haven’t been switched to the new system.

Duncan reminded citizens that the sirens aren’t designed to be the only warning system or to be heard inside a home. He noted that people should also check with radio and TV reports for severe weather.

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