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Is Sedgwick County Tornado Ready?

Courtesy photo
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activation during the Oaklawn tornado on April 14, 2012.

A tornado tore through midtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Sunday. Emergency officials did not immediately sound sirens. The incident raised the question: What procedures are being used here in Sedgwick County when a storm is approaching?

The Tulsa tornado had moved on by the time the National Weather Service issued a warning. As a result, emergency management officials reportedly did not sound the sirens.

Cody Charvat, training and exercise manager with Sedgwick County Emergency Management, says that the county has two criteria for deciding to sound the sirens.

"Either a warning is issued by the National Weather Service office, or we have a confirmed report from a trusted spotter in the field who is telling us that they have a tornado on the ground," Charvat says. "In either case, we will sound the sirens and alert the citizens."

Charvat says sirens are part of a layered approach to alert residents. He says the media, smart phone alerts and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios can let people know a storm is on the way, often before the sirens go off.

Peak tornado season in Kansas is in the springtime, but a second season can take place in the late summer and early fall.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.