Kalamazoo Township to discontinue tornado sirens

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The wailing sound of a tornado sirens in Kalamazoo Township will be a thing of the past, starting next year.

The siren system is getting old and officials say they can no longer find replacement parts to keep the sirens up and running. 

Kalamazoo Township has a total of nine pole-mounted tornado sirens. Four are mounted at the fire stations and were installed in the 1960s. An additional five were donated to the township in 2004 by the Palisades Power Plant. At the time of donation, those five sirens were already 15 years old.

The township board also considered replacing the sirens, but nine new sirens would cost Kalamazoo Township $250,000, not including the price of installation, running or maintaining them. 

With recent advancements in technology — from increased tornado warning time to smartphone capabilities — the board decided to decommission their sirens in 2019. 

TORNADO SIREN COVERAGE

Sirens were intended to alert anyone outdoors. A single tornado siren is designed to cover a radius of one mile.

Many townships in West Michigan have very few tornado sirens, and some have none at all.

Kalamazoo County has roughly 23 tornado sirens covering less than half of the county. Most of West Michigan is in a similar situation, with scarce or broken sirens. 

Kalamazoo Township board members say their current system of nine sirens doesn’t cover all their residents.

Additionally, recent advancements in technology such a satellites, super computers and radar have allowed for much longer lead times ahead of severe weather. And many people are now turning to their cellphones, TVs or weather radios before a tornado siren is even called to sound.

ALTERNATIVE NOTIFICATIONS

Kalamazoo Township officials are encouraging residents to find a system that works for them so they can stay safe and prepared.

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For Kalamazoo Township residents uncomfortable using smartphones to get weather information or alerts, board members say they will be providing weather alert devices at cost so everyone in their community can stay safe. 

You can also find a full list of weather alerts on the National Weather Service’s website.

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