Mayor wants better system than hand-operated tornado siren

The mayor of tiny Sparta, Missouri, says the town’s hand-activated tornado warning siren needs to be retired.

Mayor Jenni Davis is the only person in the town of 1,900 residents authorized to activate the tornado siren. The problem with the odd and antiquated system became evident early Monday when a twister was approaching town.

Davis wanted to get downtown to flip the switch activating the siren but a tree blocked her path. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Some towns are turning away from tornado warning sirens since cellphone apps and other technology that alert to approaching storms are increasingly common. But some experts say outdoor sirens still serve a purpose.

Davis would like to replace the old siren but the cost of up to $50,000 is more than the city can afford. A congressman’s office is seeking grant money to help.

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