Tornado Sirens in AR Not Consistent Statewide

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Tornado sirens alert people to take cover because dangerous weather is approaching your area. In Arkansas, when the warnings sound and where they sound is not consistent from county to county and sometimes even from city to city.

Some counties already warn for things like damaging straight line winds, or public reports of tornadoes. Pulaski is among several counties or jurisdictions that sound sirens only when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning.  

"They'll go off automatically, every ten minutes till the warning has been dropped," says Andy Traffanstedt, Director of Pulaski County Emergency Management. 

Every county, city or jurisdiction can vary. 

"The problem is we don't have one size fits all rules for sounding tornado sirens across the state," says Keith Monahan, Chief Meteorologist for KARK.

Pulaski county sounds tornado sirens countywide, Saline county does it in sectors, depending what areas are threatened. A hilly, sparsely-populated county like Van Buren only has sirens in two areas, which sound only for tornadoes.

March 1, 2017, strong, straight-line winds hit Van Buren county hard, damaging property and knocking out power.  Folks told us at the time they wish they'd had some warning. 

Traffanstedt says it could get confusing if the sirens sound every time a severe storm approaches.

"We want them to know when the sirens go off it is a true dangerous situation, they need to seek shelter," Traffanstedt said.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management is working on getting the tornado policies for every city and county across the state and want to create a place where that information is available to the public. 

Right now, the best practice is to know your county or city's tornado siren policy.

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