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Q&A: Storm warning

By Times Staff Writer
Published July 22, 2005

Why doesn't Pinellas County have a tornado warning system?

Some areas, particularly the Midwest, use tornado sirens. But in urban Pinellas County, it would be hard to distinguish a specific tornado siren from emergency vehicle sirens, officials said.

In some areas, automated phone systems are used to warn of dangerous weather. The county is developing such a system for general emergency use, but officials warn that it is not foolproof for tornadoes because they strike so quickly. The systems are limited in how many calls they can make in a given time frame.

How does the National Weather Service issue warnings?

The National Weather Service in Ruskin issues warnings to the media, municipalities, weather watchers and any organization or individual who has a weather wire service, said NWS meteorologist Barry Goldsmith. The warnings are received within 30 seconds by anyone with a battery-operated NOAA weather radio set for Pinellas County alert.

What is recommended as the best early warning system?

Officials suggest weather alert radios, available in electronics stores. They pick up a signal from local National Weather Service stations to alert you of a tornado warning or watch.

Source: Pinellas County Emergency Management, National Weather Service

[Last modified July 22, 2005, 00:33:20]

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