Tornado sirens in the Midlands, are you warned?
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 22:00:00 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Severe weather season is right around the corner.
Last year ten tornadoes touched down in South Carolina. Five of those were in the Midlands. Thankfully, those twisters didn't claim any lives.
Hopefully, the reason why is because those near the path of the tornado were properly warned.
When you think of tornado warnings you might think of a siren blaring until the warning has expired. However, only three counties in the Midlands actually have tornado sirens. Fairfield, Newberry, and Saluda counties are the only ones with the Cold War era techonology in place.
Newberry County Emergency Manager Tommy Long says, "It gives the community a way of us notifying them if they're outside or don't have any communication with them. They can hear the siren and that at least gives them a warning to go inside and see if you can find out what's going on."
You might wonder how far you can hear the sirens?
"It depends on the wind a lot of times, which way the wind is blowing, but on average at least a mile," Long says.
A mile, needless to say, doesn't cover everyone. Plus, you can't always hear a siren when you are inside a building.
You might also wonder why the state does not have a statewide siren system. Well, it's all about the money.
Each siren costs tens of thousands of dollars plus the cost of annual maintenance.
Derrec Becker, with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, says, "Each of our county emergency managers have done a good job at identifying their communities and looking at the types of emergencies that are most common and how best to notify the people they serve in that county. So you see a lot of counties with siren systems that works for them. For us on the state level, that's just not feasible."
In today's technology driven world, most have turned to different apps on smartphones to get weather warnings.
What happens when cell towers are knocked out during a tornado situation?
With only three counties having the equipment, tornado sirens are not the best way to be "weather ready" in the Midlands. NOAA Weather Radio, cell phones, social media, and local media are the best way to keep you and your family safe.
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Number of tornado sirens Newberry 11Saluda 9Fairfield 4