Pelham has started to phase out the outdoor tornado warning system, however outdoor sirens will remain at select locations, such as the Civic Complex. (File)
Pelham has started to phase out the outdoor tornado warning system, however outdoor sirens will remain at select locations, such as the Civic Complex. (File)

Pelham phasing out outdoor tornado warning sirens

Published 5:17pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—After 30 years, Pelham has started to phase out its system of tornado warning sirens. The system, originating in the 1980s, has become outdated by smart phone technology and weather radios, according to city officials.

“It’s a great system for what it is designed to do, but now it is old technology,” said Pelham Deputy Police Chief Larry Palmer, who until recently had cared for the system since 2008.

Both Pelham Mayor Gary Waters and Palmer encourage residents to turn to smart phone applications and weather radios for tornado warnings, as they deliver alerts directly and immediately from the National Weather Service.

“Technology has passed up the old system,” said Palmer. “Smart phones and weather radios are more accurate and timely.”

Palmer also added the use of smart phones and weather radios eliminate the middle step and minimize “the possibility of human error” that exists in the outdoor tornado siren warning system. Furthermore, he explained the warning sirens are located outside the home and run the risk of not being heard.

Waters emphasized the system will not be taken down immediately, as all the outdoor warning sirens are currently in good working condition. Rather, the sirens will be phased out slowly as they cease to function properly, and there is no definitive end date for the process.

“As long as they continue to work, they will remain up,” said Waters of the warning sirens.

However, Waters said city would not continue to maintain the sirens.

“They are very expensive to maintain, so as they age we will take them out of service,” said Waters.

Outdoor tornado warning sirens will continue to remain outside of the Pelham City Park, the Pelham Golf Course, the Pelham Racquet Club and the Civic Complex.

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