Last year, on June 4th, a thunderstorm showed signs of a tornado near Bushland and a tornado warning was issued. The sirens were sounded for the entire city of Amarillo even though the storm stayed well west of town. So it brings up a lot questions, like why can't sirens just in that area be sounded? Why start panic in an area that might not be effected?
We asked Kevin Starbuck, the Emergency Operations Coordinator for Amarillo, to explain tornado siren policy.
"The city of Amarillo, Potter, and Randall County systems is a very large system. They cover everywhere from locations north of the city in Potter county to all the way down south in Umbarger. Because we have a very large system a lot of times we will warn areas that are not necessarily threatened by a severe weather event. Our policy has always been that in the initial stages of severe weather impact that has a rotating wall cloud, funnel cloud, or tornado reported or a National Weather Service warning then we will activate the entire outdoor warning system initially, as time permits and the opportunity becomes available we will try to trim that down to warn specific areas that are being threatened."
In the end, Kevin says it's about keeping people safe when severe weather threatens. It's the goal of city officials and it's also our goal here in the Storm Search 7 Command Center.
So when the sirens go off, seek shelter immediately. And if you can, tune in to Storm Search 7 for latest weather information.