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Jefferson City, Cole County emergency officials consider siren alert changes

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

There are two main methods to receive first notification of severe weather events in Cole County and Boone County; the outdoor siren system and the Smart 9-1-1 mobile app.

Since an EF-3 tornado struck Mid-Missouri in May, the Cole County Emergency Management Agency and Jefferson City Police Department have been engaged in an ongoing discussion over the protocol for sounding the network of outdoor storm sirens.

The newest of 31 Cole County storm sirens towers above the downtown Jefferson City area on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. It was installed Dec. 26, 2019.

The current protocol for the storm sirens in Cole County is that they will sound once upon notification of an alert from the National Weather Service and again when the alert expires.

Under consideration is a change in the protocol to instead sound the alarm intermittently throughout the life of a severe weather alert, only to stop when the alert expires.

Jefferson City Police Department Lt. Chad Stieferman said there are several things to consider when changing the protocol for sounding the sirens.

The first variable is power. The county's 31 siren systems operate with batteries that are recharged via solar panels. An intermittent siren would use far more power depending on the length of the weather emergency.

Recharging would also be inconsistent given the unpredictable nature of the weather.

If a new siren protocol is adopted, the amount of time between each sound must be closely considered, Stieferman said.

The other item to consider is whether the change would be more efficient than the current one.

Stieferman and Cole County Emergency Management Agency director Bill Farr said they have been in conversations with neighboring Boone and Callaway counties to more closely align their protocols for the sake of consistency.

It's unclear when and if a final decision will be made, Stieferman said.

The other system of notification is the Smart 9-1-1 mobile application utilized in Boone and, as of November, in Cole County.

The application can be downloaded by following this link.

Boone / Jefferson City / News / Severe Weather / Top Stories / Weather

Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.

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