Archive for Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Outdoor warning siren back in working order

May 17, 2006

Tonganoxie's outdoor warning siren is back to its loud self.

Tests were run on the siren, which is near city hall, Monday morning.

Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County emergency preparedness director, said the siren now is fully functional.

"It had a bad chopper motor," Magaha said.

Earlier this spring, the siren did not work properly during severe weather.

"It always showed it was working well from here," Magaha said of his Leavenworth office. "It was turning, but was not turning fast enough."

Assistant city administrator Kathy Bard had a first-hand listen to the siren from her city hall office Monday.

In the past, when the siren was at full force, it would blurt a loud, low-pitched sound that reverberated off downtown windows. With Monday's repair, the windows no longer should shake because the siren emits a higher-pitched sound.

Now that the outdoor warning siren is working properly, Bard said it's hoped more residents will hear it when it's sounded.

"Whatever they did to correct it, it's supposed to transmit it farther," Bard said. "So people in perhaps Eagle Valley or Stone Creek, if they're outside, can hear it better."

However, it's also possible that residents in Stone Creek might not hear the siren because of the water tower that's southwest of the subdivision.

Bard said Magaha told her the water tower disrupts the sound waves and causes a V-shaped diffuser. When sound hits the tower it then veers outward. Buildings also can manipulate where the sound travels.

"I thought that was kind of interesting," Bard said.

As Magaha stressed at a recent city council meeting, residents should take other steps when preparing for severe weather. Although the outdoor siren is designed to warn residents, it isn't a guaranteed warning. For instance, when storms knock out power in Tonganoxie, the siren becomes ineffective because it runs on electricity.

That's why Magaha urges residents to purchase weather radios, which have a battery back-up.

Earlier this spring, the city purchased 25 Midland weather radios through Magaha's office to be resold to the public.

Bard said that shipment already has been sold and a second installment of 25 should arrive this week. The weather radios cost $29.51 each.

The assistant city administrator said the radio is a good device to have.

"I wish more people would get them," Bard said. "I bought one. I think it's a pretty good thing to have."

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