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Birmingham Met: Tornado Siren Mentality Could “Cost Lives”

In ABC, Alabama, Birmingham, Weather on March 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

James Spann (Courtesy: WBMA)

Meteorologist James Spann, known for his severe weather coverage throughout the state of Alabama, criticized the warning system used by many to alert countless residents of severe weather.

He told NPR in an interview earlier this week that people can become too reliant on sirens.

“In the siren mentality, it’s the idea that you’re always going to hear a tornado siren before a tornado strikes,” Spann said in the article. “And I believe it’s a farce.”

Powerful words, but then again Spann has been the chief meteorologist at Birmingham ABC affiliate WBMA for several years, and has worked in weather since the late 1970s.

You may also remember when he called to task Diane Sawyer for incorrect information she gave in a newscast. His statement generated enough feedback to warrant a call from ABC and a mention the next night, though they still never corrected the story.

This time, though, Spann’s interview was one of several commenting on the perceived need for many in the path of deadly weather to receive additional confirmation. It’s why, some say, those tornado sirens are ignored.

Meteorologists in the South quickly agree those sirens also aren’t the most reliable. Oftentimes when one hears the warning, it could be too late.

“We’re not as good as we think we are, and we have to accept that and work on it and be better, and admit the warning process has some work to do,” Spann said.

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