Sirens Sound in NP, But No Tornado Warning Issued

Photo Courtesy of Riley Cochran

Photo Courtesy of Riley Cochran

When the civil defense sirens sound during severe weather, we expect it to be followed by the buzzing sound of the Emergency Alert System on our radios and televisions announcing a Tornado Warning, followed by it’s location and other information.

However, this wasn’t the case in the city of North Platte last night.

The civil defense warning sirens, or tornado sirens as most of us refer to them, sounded last night even though the National Weather Service hadn’t issued a Tornado Warning for the city, prompting many residents to ask why.

According to the North Platte 911 Center, they were given a Severe Warning 1, which is a step above a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, and requires emergency personnel to act as if there were an imminent threat to life and property.

The National Weather Service (NWS) advised North Platte Dispatchers that they were tracking a very strong cell near the Lake Maloney area, which was showing signs of rotation on radar.  While the storm had not produced a radar indicated or confirmed tornado, storms in the area were increasing in severity rapidly prompting warning coordinators to upgrade the warning.

The civil defense sirens are not just for Tornadoes, but rather are to be used in any situation where there is an imminent or potentially imminent threat to life and property.

Fortunately, the city of North Platte was spared from tornadoes last night.  Nonetheless, many communities in our area did receive large hail up to the size of tennis balls and winds in excess of 80 miles per hour, causing significant damage to property.

Here are the warning definitions from the NWS:

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.

Tornado Warning

This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.

In the event of severe weather, stay tuned to the North Platte Post Facebook Page and the Eagle Radio family of stations, Mix 97.1, Q Country 107.3 and ESPN Radion 1410.  We will keep you advised of all developing information.


  • Plan 9 From Outerspace

    First, we get tornado sirens with no tornadoes! Second, we get warnings on television from the “Emergency Broadcast System” telling us to go to WGN for the report! WHY?? By the time you figure out where WGN is the report is over!! Third, when KNOP FINALLY breaks in with a weather alert, the “Emergency Broadcast System” breaks in on them telling you to go to WGN again before you have the full report from KNOP!! Talk about a system with SERIOUS flaws!!

    Current score: 9
  • Cooper Radio Show

    I recall that last night Mix 97.1, ESPN Radio 1410 and Q Country 107.3 did live reports on the tornado warning without interruption from the EAS system. I’d say maybe you should monitor those stations when severe weather happens… I may be tooting my own horn, but hey.. We care about your safety. Plain and simple.

    Current score: 3
    • Oh???


      Current score: 0
  • Dude

    The continuing incompetence in NP is gonna get a lot of people killed eventually. First, no sirens when there’s a tornado. Then sirens when there AREN’T. And KNOP is constantly behind on weather. Someone will have to answer for mass fatalities when the ish hits the fan.

    Current score: 6
  • Eagle

    Thank you Scott and Cooper for going back in late Friday night after working all week to keep us informed. Able to catch you on live stream and keep up on what was going on. You guys are greatly appreciated!!!!

    Current score: 3
  • citizen

    I was listening to the radio as the sirens were going off and they were reporting that it was just a precaution NOT A TORNADO. Maybe some people should pay more attention and use their resources.

    Current score: 1
  • Shep

    The sirens are getting easy to ignore.

    Current score: 3
    • Susan

      If that continues to happen, people will become complacent and when they go off during a real emergency, it will be devastating.

      Current score: 3
  • loveit…

    Knop sucks!! PERIOD

    Current score: 7
  • Concerned citizen

    I moved to NP a time back from a different county in Nebraska. There is a difference sound and pattern in the Civil Defense siren and the tornado siren. Also, the tornado siren stays on contantly until the warning decreases for that area. Here there is no difference and they shut it off and turn it back on 10 min later like in the April 14th 2012 tornadoes. When you have to evacuate to a different level in your building you do not know if the storm is over or not. I understand they want to warn citizens with the Civil Defense siren, but when it exactly like tornado siren it is too confusing for citizens. That in. An event of an actual tornado citizens will ignore it because complacency of the siren.

    Also, our EAS system on our TV says the storm warning written on the Television, but the message that is spoken always says this is a monthly test. Now I am not dumb when they sound that message I am on weather channel discovering what the warnings is. However, someone who does not have access to a computer or wifi device will not know where it is coming from.

    Current score: 1