Plano makes changes to weather warning sirens after Sunday mishap

The City of Plano is switching its outdoor severe weather warning sirens to be "wail-only."

The city says voice messaging can be confusing or hard to hear leading residents to come outside. That's the opposite of what people should do during severe weather.

During Sunday night's storms, a tornado warning voice message sounded even though the National Weather Service had not issued a warning.

Storm spotters saw a funnel cloud forming near Legacy Drive and made the call to sound the sirens. City spokesman Steve Stoler says, by accident, they also sounded the siren that says a tornado warning has been issued.

“So somewhere along the route there was a mistake made,” Stoler said.

That is one of the reasons why the City of Plano says it will transition to a siren-only system — with no description of whether the sirens are sounding for a tornado warning, spotted tornado, hail an inch and a half or larger or winds over 70 miles per hour.

“We want to transition to a whale-only outdoor storm siren because there is a lot of confusion,”

Plano resident Angie Walker says she was at her daughter’s soccer game in beautiful sunny weather on Sunday when she got the alert that a storm was coming.

Once home, she heard the sirens -- and wasn’t exactly sure what they were warning.

“I think it’s hard to communicate that clearly through a system like that,” Walker said.

Stoler says that’s when people should get inside and seek more information from the news and emergency alerts on social media.

“When you hear the voice and you don’t know what it’s saying, a lot of people want to go outside and understand what’s being said and that’s the exact opposite of what we want our residents to do,” Stoler said.

Walker believes that’s a good idea for people.

“I think that’s a legitimate concern because I have heard something and went and opened the door, peak outside to hear,” Walker said.

Stoler said the city doesn’t want people going outside during severe weather.

“We want them to take shelter,” Stoler said.