Weather

Tornado sirens in this Kansas town have to be activated by hand

Changes in the system mean the tornado sirens in South Hutchinson have to be activated by hand until planned upgrades occur.
Changes in the system mean the tornado sirens in South Hutchinson have to be activated by hand until planned upgrades occur. File photo

Authorities in South Hutchinson are cautioning residents not to rely on the city's tornado sirens to warn them of imminent violent weather this spring.

Due to "changes in the system," the city's four sirens can not be activated remotely, a post on the South Hutchinson Police Department's Facebook page said Wednesday.

While the system is scheduled for updates to fix the problem, until then each siren will have to be activated by hand by police, fire or city maintenance crews.

"During an emergency weather event, this may take several minutes to accomplish," the statement said.

Weather forecasters and emergency management officials have long preached that tornado sirens are only meant to warn those who are outside and have no other means available to receive alerts and warnings.

But for many people it's an ingrained habit not to react until the sirens are sounded. Not one tornado has touched down so far this year in either Kansas or Oklahoma - an almost unheard-of statistic for the heart of Tornado Alley.

Fortunately for South Hutchinson, a town of about 2,500 residents in Reno County northwest of Wichita, the quiet spring is expected to continue.

The forecast "looks good" for South Hutchinson, National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Ketcham said. "There's no severe weather in the near future" for the area.

But the calm won't last forever, so South Hutchinson police are urging residents to make sure their weather radios have fresh batteries and to download weather alert applications to their mobile devices.

There are two different sirens for air attacks and tornadoes.(Photo by Brian Corn)

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