Storm Sirens Aren't A Wake-Up Call - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Storm Sirens Aren't A Wake-Up Call

Reporter: Chad Sewich

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

In the aftermath of Sunday's tornado, many people are asking why they didn't hear the storm sirens. They're the warning cry of approaching storms and Jamie Rutherford's daughter heard it inside their Newburgh home early Sunday morning. Jamie tells us, "She said, 'Mom I keep hearing sirens.' And I said, 'Oh my God,' so we went to turn on the TV in the basement." The family took cover and survived.

The Shreves family lives in Eastbrook Mobile Home park and they also took cover, but it was the wind that woke them up. Amy Shreves explains, "I woke up at 2:00 or 2:15 and it was just on me. So I did not hear the sirens and I've woken up to them before. I'm not saying they didn't go off - I just didn't hear them."

That's not surprising. Storm sirens are not designed as a wake-up call. They're function is to alert people who are outside to get indoors quickly. 

Warrick County Sheriff Marvin Heilman didn't hear the sirens either, but says the system, while flawed, does save lives. "It works, it functions. They're strategically located in appropriate places to warn as many people as they can."

Weather radios, which have now sold out in many stores, are designed to wake people up and do an excellent job - when they work. However, a possible software glitch didn't send the warning from the National Weather Service to some radio models this weekend.

Rick Shanklin of the National Weather Service says, "There is a type that's been around through the years that uses what we call a 1050 Hertz tone. Those did not activate the tone for some technical reason."

But National Weather Service officials say it's important to have back-up ways to receive warnings. A specialist from Kansas is in Paducah to look into the weather radio problem at NWS.

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