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April 26, 2014

Severe weather expected Saturday, one siren down

— Chickasha will enter the first significant severe event of the season this weekend with a partially crippled warning system.

With the potential for severe weather this weekend, Chickasha has one outdoor warning siren out of service on the corner of 3rd Street and Georgia Avenue because of a power surge. Officers with PA systems will be sent to the area in the event of a tornado to relay any immediate warning information to the public.

The National Weather Center has identified Saturday afternoon into the early hours of Sunday as most likely time period for severe storms. The worst will bring hail up to the size of baseballs, 80 mile per hour winds and some tornadoes.

Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday is when storms are expected to begin in western Oklahoma, moving across to the metro area no later than 11 p.m. Strong storms will still be possible early Sunday morning.

Chickasha Emergency Management Director Steve Chapman said the siren was put temporarily out of commission in the surge and a part has been sent to the manufacturer for repair.

Chapman said the sirens have a hearing radius of approximately one mile, but the city places them a half mile apart, so the sound overlaps.

The city sounds the sirens on a monthly basis to test their functionality, he said.

Chapman said the sirens are designed for outdoor use,  and may not always be heard indoors, so citizens should pay attention to NOAA weather radios and local media when severe weather is in the forecast.

If a tornado is eminent, the city sounds the outdoor warning system, contacts local radio stations, and updates social media to notify the public, he said.

"Even though the city feels like we're prepared, we rely on our citizens to have an emergency plan for their families," Chapman said.

Chickasha Police Maj. Elip Moore said the police department watches local radio and TV stations to monitor the weather, sends officers to high ground to watch for a tornado if one is expected to come through the city, and calls for outdoor sirens to be sounded if necessary.


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