• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

Even in the Age of Cell Phone Alerts, Many Central Texas Communities Still Rely on Tornado Sirens

ByCindy J. Daddario

Mar 25, 2022

WACO, TX (KWTX) – Many people in central Texas heard outdoor warning sirens blaring, urging them to seek shelter, as storms and tornadoes hit the area on Monday.

Exterior warning sirens are not a requirement, so not all cities have them.

The City of Morgan’s Point Resort does. In fact, it has two and it’s expensive, according to city fire chief Taran Vaszocz.

“It looks like it was about $35,000 to $40,000 that went into it about 7 years ago,” Vaszocz said of the city’s second outdoor warning siren installed in 2015. “It’s the cost of installing a power pole and all the infrastructure that goes with that,” he said.

Many large cities in Texas, such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, do not have outdoor warning sirens.

KWTX has learned that all major cities in central Texas and many small towns have multiple outdoor warning sirens. These include:

  1. The city of Waco has 34 mermaids
  2. The town of Killeen has 21 mermaids
  3. City of Temple has 25 mermaids
  4. The town of Belton has 4 mermaids
  5. The city of Gatesville has 6 mermaids
  6. The town of Rogers has 1 mermaid
  7. The town of Lacey Lakeview has 4 mermaids
  8. The town of Bellmead has 2 mermaids

Local city officials say that with so many rural areas in central Texas, it makes sense to have sirens here.

“The sirens are designated and designed to operate outdoors. You’re not supposed to be able to hear them when you’re inside. They really go back to when people were herding or farming,” Vaszocz said.

Almost all cities, even those with outdoor warning sirens, also rely on digital warning systems to notify residents of an impending threat.

Uryan Nelson is part of the Central Texas Council of Governments, which facilitates free Code Red phone alerts for cities in seven Central Texas counties: Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills, and San Saba.

Code Red alerts themselves are sent by a combination of state and local agencies for the user’s specific location.

“Traditional sirens, if you’re not close enough you can’t hear it,” Nelson said. “So there will always be gaps with that. Whereas with your mobile device and the technology available, if the system is working properly, you should never be out of range of being notified of anything.

There may be technology issues or a delay in alerts reaching users and some seniors may have difficulty setting up alerts. So officials agree that a combination of digital alerts and outdoor sirens is best for a city that can afford it.

To sign up for these Code Red alerts for your city, click here.

You can also download for free KWTX weather app for the latest weather updates.

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