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City reviews tornado siren protocol

Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 19:23:44-04

TULSA -- Officials at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tulsa say they stand by Tulsa Area Emergency Management's decision last year, to not sound the sirens after the Midtown tornado already passed through.

NWS Tulsa Senior Meteorologist Mike Lacy sat in front of computer radars August 6th, 2017 around 1 a.m. when he spotted something unusual for an August night.

"The storms continued to evolve and strengthen and so it was a hectic time around here," said Lacy.

At 1:19 a.m. radar picked up a tornado that touched down near 41st and I-44, which they say seemed to come out of no where.

"Because of the fact that it’s from the ground up, it can get started below the radar beam so we couldn’t see it," said Lacy.

The EF-2 ripped through several businesses, and disassembled in six minutes at 1:25 a.m. That was the same time the NWS sent out a tornado warning to the Tulsa area.

"By the time that tornado warning had occurred the tornado was moving out of Tulsa city limits and beyond our siren system so we chose not to sound the siren system at that point in time," said Joe Kralicek, Director of Tulsa Area Emergency Management.

The Mayor's office released the following statement to Two Works For You:

"Following the tornado, an assessment was conducted on siren protocols and all aspects of the tornado response. Officials determined Tulsa’s tornado siren system worked given the technology at our disposal, but noted the National Weather Service (NWS) is limited in their equipment capabilities as it relates to tornado response. Improvements at the federal level for NWS would be beneficial to Tulsa residents."

"It kind of ended up being a perfect storm as far as inability to spot the tornado until it already began to leave Tulsa," said Kralicek.

NWS Tulsa says it could be several years, maybe even a decade, before the next generation of equipment comes out, that could update activity in less than a minute. They say that depends on technology and proper funding.

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