Sound of sirens means 'Danger!' - not just potential


June 2, 2019

The city of Clovis is an easy target for criticism, and it’s often deserved.

Last week’s “failure” to activate tornado warning sirens did not warrant the disapproval expressed by those chiding public officials on social media.

Eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle saw three tornado touchdowns last Sunday night, with multiple tornado warnings and watches issued by weather observers throughout the evening.

But no evidence was presented suggesting the city of Clovis was ever in imminent danger of being hit by a twister. That’s why the sirens didn’t sound, according to Emergency Management Director Dan Heerding.

And, in case you were wondering, “Warning sirens would not reach any population outside of Clovis,” Heerding wrote in a text message Sunday night.

The social media watchdogs argued that just the threat of tornadoes anywhere in the region warranted activation of Clovis’ emergency-alert system. Those fault-finders have clearly never heard the story about the boy who cried wolf.

If the Clovis sirens sounded every time a tornado was spotted within 35 miles of the city limits (that’s how far it is to the Roosevelt County area where there was actual danger), they’d be going off dozens of times, for hours on end, every spring. And while that might get our attention the first three or four times, we’ll be ignoring them — or calling City Hall to complain — the next 40 times.

Tornadoes are common enough around here that most of us have learned that the clouds will tell us when we need to tune into our favorite TV weather forecaster, turn on the radio, check out the newspaper website or access information from the National Weather Service. From there, we can quickly judge whether more attention is needed to ensure our safety.

When the clouds are boiling and we hear the city’s severe weather warning siren, it’s time to step away from the TV and desktop computer and slip into the basement or pull mattresses over the family in a closet.

The argument that we need to be taking cover before we need to be taking cover compromises our safety.

— David Stevens



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