The last round of severe weather to strike the Twin Cities brought up a question for many of the city’s residents: Why don’t we have tornado sirens installed within the city limits? It is certainly a valid question, especially when considering the fact that Brazos County has seen 13 tornadoes in the last 10 years. The Brazos Valley actually sits on the southern edge of the infamous Tornado Alley and has played host to hundreds of tornadoes over the past 50 years. Many of these tornadoes have caused significant damage and a few have resulted in fatalities. As trite as it may sound, the truth of the matter is: it’s not a matter of if, but when another destructive tornado tracks across the Twin cities. Given the obvious threat, the question still remains: Why don’t we have tornado sirens?
The idea of tornado sirens has been discussed for many years within the city council and was even placed on the voter’s ballot. Unfortunately, it was voted down due to the projected cost, which is the primary issue preventing an installation today. According to Robert Alley of the College Station Fire Department, the initial installation would cost over $100,000 and ongoing maintenance would drive that figure up.
However, a KBTX online speak out poll suggests the majority of residents would be willing to shell out the cost with 77% of our online voters stating that tornado sirens are needed within the city.
An important point is that even if we had tornado sirens in town, they wouldn’t have sounded during last week’s severe weather. This is because what struck College Station was not a tornado, but straight-line winds. Everything from the orientation of the damage, post-radar analysis, and personal accounts all confirm that this was certainly not a tornado. Since a tornado warning had not been issued, the sirens would have remained silent. So how can you be prepared for future severe weather events? The answer is simply to stay informed.
Staying informed is as simple as tuning into KBTX or purchasing a NOAA weather radio. Although tornado sirens would provide an extra measure of security, a NOAA weather radio acts as your own personal tornado siren. The radio is sold at various electronic stores and online for around $20-$30. These radios will sound an alarm if a tornado warning is issued for your county. The technology contained within these radios has advanced well beyond the weather radios made just a few years ago. Current NOAA weather radios have technology built in that will allow you to specify what type of warning you want to receive (e.g. Tornado, Flood, Thunderstorm) AND the county or counties that you want to receive the warnings for. Therefore, if you live on a hill far away from any creeks or streams, you may want to be woken up by a tornado warning, but not a flood warning.