Local residents have probably heard area storm sirens sound off at different times over the last several weeks.
Every Wednesday when the skies are clear, Daniel Miller, emergency management coordinator for Owasso, makes it a priority to test the city’s emergency warning system during the storm season.
“The important thing is to ensure that they’re working if a tornado or strong winds happen,” he said.
The city’s 16 storm sirens are strategically placed at different areas around the community and emit a certain decibel when activated, which allows the sounds overlap and carry across a wide range.
Protocol for activating those sirens in Owasso is contingent upon staff receiving a tornado warning or when thunderstorms reach winds of 70 mph or higher.
Miller, who works in Owasso’s underground Emergency Management Department, can be found plugging away in front of a cluster of computer monitors and TV screens tracking those severe weather patterns.
“It allows me to try and be that first response … so that if something does happen, we’re prepared for those incidents,” he said, “trying to have that situational awareness ahead of time.”
Miller said this spring has been mild compared to the previous two years, with an EF-2 tornado impacting Stone Canyon in March 2016 and another EF-1 hitting neighborhoods near 106th St. N. and 161st E. Ave. in March 2017.
When those storms do come through, however, Miller is at the helm, in contact with the National Weather Service, local storm trackers and Owasso Police, Fire and Public Works to keep residents updated and safe.
Miller said he is sometimes asked why the sirens can’t always be heard indoors, to which he replied they are mainly designed as an outdoor warning system.
“So if you’re outside and you hear it, it’s to notify you to let you go inside, turn on the TV and check your smartphones to find out what’s actually going on,” he said.
When asked what actions locals can take when inclement weather rolls in, Miller simply said to stay alert.
“If you hear, either through our Facebook page or through the local weather station or media, there’s a chance of storms, just be weather aware, making sure you’re paying attention to what’s going on,” he said.
For more information about Owasso’s Emergency Management Department, call 918-272-3828, or visit cityofowasso.com/299/Emergency-Management.