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Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel talks tornado sirens

Friday, June 19th, 2009 5:01am MDT
Something you will not see in Thornton - Tornado sirens.

Something you will not see in Thornton - tornado sirens.

In yesterday’s Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel, the paper wrote about tornado sirens and warning systems in the north metro area – or rather the lack thereof.  Appropriately titled “Sound of silence”, the article points out that Thornton is not alone in their lack of any sort of severe weather warning system. 

Westminster, Northglenn, Federal Heights and Adams County leave citizens to fend for themselves as well.  Brighton and Commerce City have siren systems to protect residents of their cities.

Emergency managers cited a number of reasons including the ever-present cost consideration and the fact that severe weather season in Colorado is relatively shortlived.  It is the opinion of ThorntonWeather.com that these thoughts are all extremely shortsighted and cities are risking their citizens’ lives. 

One of the more interesting sections of the article reflects that:

Mike Reddy, captain of emergency management for the Westminster Fire Department, said Mother Nature often provides enough warning for those people who are caught outside during severe weather.

“To me it’s like lightning. If you are out playing golf and there is lightning, it’s best to go inside where it’s safe,” Reddy said. “Tornado sirens are a very expensive investment that it turns out are used three weeks out of the year.

With all the media coverage and alternative approaches, there are more effective ways for people to be notified.”

Reddy added that the information he gets from dispatch about severe weather can be found on the local news channel or Internet.

Do tornadoes strike in the Denver area?  177 have been recorded in the metro area alone since 1950. They have occurred as early as April 10th and as late as October 14th.

Do tornadoes strike in the Denver area? 177 have been recorded in the metro area alone since 1950. They have occurred as early as April 10th and as late as October 14th. Map courtesy TornadoPaths.org.

Captain Reddy may wish to familiarize himself with the history of tornadoes in Colorado.  Since 1950, tornadoes have been recorded as early as April 10th and as late as October 14th – in the Denver metro area alone.  Further, through yesterday, 177 twisters have been recorded in the metro area during that same time frame so despite what some may say, they are not rare. 

If a warning system saved your life or the lives of your family, wouldn’t it be worth it?

We recently wrote an article on Examiner.com detailing the current state of emergency warning system across the metro area.  While we had similar results in our talks with various cities that the Sentinel did, we also found that many communities are taking advantage of lower-cost, high tech solutions that incorporate notifying residents of emergencies using email and text messaging.  These types of systems have the added benefit of having multiple uses and can be used to notify residents about other significant events including Amber Alerts, wildfires, chemical spills, civil disasters and terrorist attacks.

We recognize that siren systems are expensive and limited in their reach.  However, we applaud those communities that are taking steps using other methods and implore Thornton and other north metro area municipalities to do the same. 

What do you think?  Should north metro communities invest in emergency alert systems to protect their citizens?  Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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8 Responses to “Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel talks tornado sirens”

  1. Jeff Douglas Says:

    Mr. Reddy needs to have his facts checked. Has he ever been outside when a tornado is coming in his direction? Does not sound like it. Stating that for only 3 weeks of severe weather does not constitute the cost of a warning system is ludicrous. I moved here from Oklahoma, where those same sirens don’t get used that often either, but they are there none-the-less. Maybe he should call or speak with the Emergency Management folks in Oklahoma (or any of the weather people who work with the systems) and see what they say. There are many instances where sirens are the ONLY notification – particularly if power is out or out at a mall.

    My only question to Mr. Reddy would be: What dollar amount are you putting on a human life? Just think, someday one of your family members may be injured or killed because of the lack of a warning system. Reminds me of Ford and the Pinto.

  2. Greg Knutson Says:

    I think Mr. Reddy needs to understand how much help the sirens could be. I am disabled and walk with a cane. I do not have the added bonus of being able to walk outside all the time to check the weather and when you lose power like we did last night even the battery operated radio is hard to get a signal on when you are in the basement. I really hope the Mr. Reddy never has to feel the lose of a loved one due to a tornado, blizzard or other act of nature. I grew up in North Dakota and have seen a number opf tornado’s and by the time you see them it might be to late. The sirens would be a definite help. I am sure there must be some money left in the budget. What does Mr. Reddy make? Maybe he should drop that by a few percent.

  3. Trey Says:

    I think its THE BEST IDEA! i mean summer 09 was really bad and im a regstered weather spoter. i live in northglenn / thorton(i live on the border of them) and there was a funnel cloud just north of my house and i can see people dident even know what was going on. so i think sirens are THE BEST IDEA

  4. Liz Says:

    Wow! I can not believe that these areas do not have tornado sirens. Especially Thornton after the area was raked by tornados in the early 1980’s. What about people who are working in malls and other places that may not be running a radio or TV? Thanks for gambling with my life, that is exactly what these cities are doing because of the bottom line, I hope they do not pay dearly for their lack of foresight.

  5. Chris Says:

    I think it is absolutely outrageous the the North Thornton area does not have a civil warning siren. Just last year on June 7th there was a tornado less than half a mile from my my house, and if it wasn’t for my neighbor i would have never known. And just last week we had a rotating funnel cloud right in the neighborhood, and it was clear that very few people noticed. I think it is a very important investment and should be taken care of. I have never lived in a city that didn’t have a civil warning siren.

  6. Bryan villalva Says:

    I was just leaving a comment for the city of Thornton I definetley think that the north Denver metro area should definetley have Tornado/weather warning sirens, found out that north east Thornton,co in 1982 had an ef3 Tornado wich did some damage so yeaa I think that all of Thornton and federal height westminster etc… should have weather warning systems start of with donations and city bills fundraisers etc.. But the north Denver metro citys should have weather warnig sytems like sirens

  7. bob richard Says:

    I think that the north Denver metro city like Thornton should definetley have weather sirens

  8. Mark Perry Says:

    In 1986 I lived in Minnesota, just a few miles from where the Fridley/Brooklyn Park tornado touched down that was caught on camera by a local news station. There was no sound, no thunder or lightning, and when the sirens sounded I looked out a window to the south and saw blue skies. It wasn’t until I looked north that I saw the storm.

    If we had not had storm sirens sounding I would have continued sitting on the 2nd floor of my house with a tornado on the ground less than 5 miles away. Even if I’d been outside at the time I would have had no clue a tornado was on the ground just looking at the skies.

    Mother nature may “often” provide warning, but sometimes it does not! My case in point, a tornado can be close without you seeing or hearing it, and if it’s traveling at 60 mph, which isn’t unheard of, by the time you do see it you may not have time to seek shelter.

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