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Northern Kentucky county plans siren test after failure during tornado

Posted at 8:32 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 21:08:07-04

BOONE COUNTY, Ky. — Boone County Emergency Management tested its storm sirens Wednesday after a failure during last week's severe weather.

The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down in Petersburg Friday night. Storm sirens are designed to alert those who are outdoors to take cover, but people who live in the area said they did not hear them.

“And we had a house full of bed and breakfast guests,” said Jen Warner. “Some were in, and some were out. And I was out here working with the horses.”

Warner runs First Farm Inn on Stevens Road. That’s where the storm blew roofs off homes and tore down trees.

NWS said the tornado was on the ground from 9:09 to 9:14 p.m. and traveled 2.8 miles. Wind speeds maxed out at 90 miles an hour, making it an EF1 tornado.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office said the fiscal court is responsible for sounding the storm sirens. Staff said they tried to sound the alarm, but it did not work.

The county posted online: “A malfunction was immediately detected that prevented the sirens from sounding.”

Emergency management director Mark Ihrig said the vendor that supplies the system came out to check it Wednesday, at which point inspectors did not find anything wrong.

Ihrig said the county tests the system the first Wednesday of each month unless the weather is questionable outside. Staff did not want to confuse the public by sounding an alarm when storms could be passing through.

IIn June, the county did not test the system because of questionable weather, Ihrig said. The last test was performed in May.

WCPO 9 First Warning Weather meteorologist Raven Richard said, typically, sirens alert people when tornado warnings are active. That means radar spotted rotation.

“If there’s a tornado warning in your county, absolutely, go to your safe place. That’s not something to wait around with. That’s actually take action. A watch is like get ready to take action,” said Richard.

You can download the WCPO Storm Shield app on your phone to get alerts automatically. You can also set up alerts on a weather radio available at retail stores.