Residents ask why tornado sirens didn’t sound

DOUGLAS County, Ga. (CBS46) — With severe weather making its way through north Georgia for a second day, the Douglas County Government released a statement on the county’s emergency sirens.

The county had received inquiries from a number of residents near Kings Highway this week after many were unable to hear sirens before a tornado touched down in the area Monday.

Douglas County Emergency Management Agency was contacted by the National Weather Service around 10:14 a.m. Monday regarding a tornado that may have touched down near Bill Arp-Kings Highway. There had been no tornado warning issued at that time, though the county’s E-911 dispatchers had received reports of downed trees in the area.

A tornado warning was officially issued by the National Weather Service around 10:21 a.m., affecting a small area from Sweetwater Creek State Park towards Riverside Drive, at which time two sirens had automatically activated.

The county explained that the sirens were automatically triggered once the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning after receiving relevant radar data. The county noted that the tornadoes moved so fast that a warning could not be issued, due to technological constraints, prior to 10:14 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado near Kings Highway had rapidly spun up and down during a short, two-minute window, thus they were unable to alert Douglas County.  

The full statement can be read here:

Douglas County

“Douglas County Government has received numerous inquiries as to why residents in the Kings Highway area of Douglas County did not hear any sirens prior to a tornado briefly touching down in their neighborhood.

At approximately 10:14 a.m. on Monday, May 3, 2021, the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency was contacted by the National Weather Service and told that they were seeing indications that a tornado may have touched down in the Bill Arp-Kings Highway area. At this time, there had been no tornado warning issued. Douglas County’s E-911 dispatchers had been receiving reports of trees down in the same area around the same time.

Shortly thereafter at 10:21 AM the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for a small area in the eastern portion of the county from Sweetwater Creek State Park towards Riverside Drive. Two sirens were automatically activated at this time.

The National Weather Service, who issues the tornado warning based on data they receive from radar, which then triggers sirens to alert the general public, has explained to Douglas County the tornadoes moved so fast, they did not technologically have time to issue a tornado warning which would have triggered sirens prior to 10:14 a.m. The National Weather Service has informed Douglas County the Kings Highway tornado spun up very rapidly and down very rapidly within two minutes before they could alert us. Therefore, they did not issue a tornado watch.”

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