It was a night filled with destruction and danger.
Thankfully, no one was killed when three tornadoes and straight line winds tore through Sioux Falls on the night of September 10.
For many, that was no thanks to sirens alerting them of danger. During the storms a “human error”, as Mayor Paul TenHaken calls it, meant only some of the sirens in Sioux Falls went off.
Now, TenHaken is taking ownership.
“Well, it’s my problem. It’s my city. Metro Management is under me, the Metro Management Council. You kind of have two routes you can go with that. You can kind of keep pointing fingers or you can say listen, we screwed up. We’re going to own it. We’re going to fix it,” said TenHaken.
And, they have. TenHaken says a fix was put into the siren system just hours after the storm.
However, that shouldn’t be your main line of defense when severe weather hits.
“Outdoor sirens were never intended to get people up out of their houses. They weren’t built that way. Down south they always tell people, don’t depend on the sirens. Because at night you may not hear them. There’s no guarantee you’re going to hear them indoors. They were designed for outdoor use. They’re great for that. But if you’re indoors and the storm is going and there’s a lot of noise, you may not hear that siren,” KELOLAND Chief Meteorologist Jay Trobec said.
So what should people do when they hear the winds pick up, or see the sky start to turn?
“The one we would recommend the most is a weather radio, because it does one thing. It has got one job and it does that job very well. It will wake you up,” Trobec said.
Trobec, says you need to have reliability in a storm. Weather radios are available in many stores, and cost around $30.
If you rely on your phone or the television for safety messages, be careful.
They may not always work, but it’s still good to have everything handy just in case.
“Watch television during the evening hours. See if you think severe weather is going to be a possibility. That’s when you know you have to be ready for it and have your radio available. Have your phone app secondarily. Just to be on the lookout for something that might happen while you’re asleep,” Trobec said.
“KELOLAND TV, your TV. Your phone is a really important one. Sirens are another piece of it. There’s multiple ways people have to use in order to stay alert on what the weather is like outside,” TenHaken said.
As for the future of sirens in Sioux Falls, don’t rely on hearing those outdoor alerts to protect your family in the middle of the night.
But if you do happen to be outside, TenHaken says the issue has been taken care of.
“Within eight hours we had met on it, we had addressed it and the piece that caused the error is no longer humanly possible thanks to the software we put in place,” TenHaken said.