Leaders in Boone Co. review tracking and response to tornadoes

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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) – Boone County had its share of storms this season. A tornado hit the Bergman and Lead Hill area in late April.

“We were able to tell the track of the storm and what departments we were going to get out first,” said Boone County 911 Director Daniel Bolen.

And in May there were strong winds in the Valley Springs area.

But the Harrison fire chief said his department is focusing on where the tornado is in the county before setting those sirens off.

“I think if we set the storm sirens off too often, people don’t listen to them. People think hey the siren’s going off again, so therefore they don’t react,” said Harrison Fire Chief Marc Lowery.

That’s why they set them off during the Bergman tornado in April.

“That storm developed in Harrison, so rightfully so it had the potential of hitting our city,” Lowery said.

But not when a tornado warning was issued for Boone County in May.

“The track never was even coming close to Harrison, so we didn’t set off our sirens. There was no need. It was heading east, south and east of the city,” Lowery explains.

“There’s no sense of us setting tornado sirens off in Harrison unless it’s going to affect Harrison directly,” said Training Officer Jeremy Sansing.

​The fire chief wants to remind people that the sirens are designed to be loud enough for people outside who might not be able to tell a tornado is coming, not necessarily for people inside their homes.

The Boone County 911 director said they also have a new software called Storm GPS that helped when the Bergman tornado struck.

“Once it populates, it alerts us, and if it’s in our area, we start watching it,” said Bob Yarbrough, the Boone County Office of Emergency Management director.

It’ll update every minute.

“The track the storm takes will be within two miles usually. Sometimes it’s right on the dot,” Yarbrough said.

It can ultimately help save lives.

“Our tornado siren in Bergman was based off what we were getting from Storm GPS and our GR3. And when we activated the siren for Bergman there was a lady who was out working on her yard that took shelter in her house.”

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