New Sedgwick County tornado warning system nears completion

Sedgwick County’s new outdoor siren system capable of warning specific areas about tornadoes will be completed in about three weeks.

The system will include 147 total warning devices. That includes 120 sirens that needed to be upgraded with new receivers, which allow individualized activation. Of those, 75 have been upgraded, and contractors are upgrading about four a day, Randy Duncan, emergency management director, said at a meeting of county staff today.

Contractors also are installing 27 new sirens. Of those, nine are standing, and contractors are installing one a day, Duncan said.

The system upgrade, projected to cost $1.25 million, will allow emergency management officials to sound only those sirens that fall inside the geographic area covered by a tornado warning, meaning that when people hear a siren, a threat is imminent, Duncan said. In the past, people in parts of the county not affected by a storm could ignore the sirens.

Duncan said the old all-or-nothing system will continue to function until the new system is activated.