(SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan.) — Tornado warnings will eventually be more specific in Sedgwick County. On Wednesday, County Commissioners approved more funding to upgrade all 153 outdoor warning devices in the county. Commissioners approved $380,495 on top of the already budgeted $857,307.
What this means is by next severe weather season, tornado sirens will only go off if a tornado warning is for your neighborhood. Right now, when there's severe weather, all 153 sirens go off at the same time. Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan says he's thrilled with the upcoming changes. He says research shows people pay more attention to tornado warnings when they are specific. He says you're more likely to take cover if you know the warning is for your area and not the entire county.
The improvements will also make it easier for the county to monitor whether the sirens are working. Right now, when sirens are tested the county calls residents to see if they heard them go off. Duncan says they often get false positives and false negatives. He says the new technology will allow the siren system to talk back the county so they will know when something is broken.
The request for proposals on the sirens went out last week. Duncan says if all goes well, the upgrades should be finished by March of 2012.