Could an outdoor tornado warning siren system be coming to Abilene?

ABILENE, Texas - Why doesn't Abilene have an outdoor warning siren system for tornadoes?

City officials said it really comes down to money. Installing sirens can cost millions of dollars and that's why Abilene has taken a different approach.

"We have a Code Red system. It's a telephonic system where 10 percent of the city has signed up for Code Red. We'd like to have 100 percent, but we don't," said Jim Bryan with the Abilene Emergency Management Office. 

Just 45 minutes away in Sweetwater there is an outdoor warning system.

"We keep the sirens in place because of their effectiveness. They're very loud, they're very attention getting, which is what they're designed for," said Sweetwater Emergency Services Director Grant Madden.

However, even sirens aren't fool proof.

"In 1986, back when the tornado hit Sweetwater, the first thing it hit was the power feed for the city and the sirens don't work without electricity, so we had no sirens in 1986," said Madden.

Sweetwater also uses the Code Red system, but Madden said the sirens are in place as a back up.

"If a person's not in their house, not near the phone, not near their cell phone, if they're riding a lawnmower and you can't hear or feel your cell phone, trust me, when you're riding a lawnmower, pushing a lawnmower, the outdoor warning sirens will get their attention," Madden said. 

Bryan said he has started looking into getting sirens in Abilene.

"Our position at the Emergency Management, as a tool we would like to combine that with a Code Red to cover the entire city from an outdoor and an indoor basis," said Bryan. 

The outdoor warning system in Abilene was removed in the 1990s.

To sign up for the current severe weather notification system "Code Red" in Abilene you can go to the city's website.

You can also call 2-1-1 or the Emergency Management Office (325) 676-6683.

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