Colorado weather warnings add digital alerts
DENVER, Colorado – Some Colorado residents are heeding more than warning sirens and media broadcasts when bad weather threatens: They’re relying on cell phones, e-mails and even a state Twitter feed.
The Colorado Division of Emergency Management set up the Twitter feed to keep citizens informed about dangerous weather. And In Dacono, where a warning siren is out of operation, residents can get tornado updates on their cell phones and land lines.
Acting Police Chief Brian Skaggs says Dacono used e-mail this week to alert residents.
“We did get some very positive feedback,” he said.
Even with an operating siren, residents in surrounding areas can have trouble hearing it. The siren can be heard in nearby Frederick but is tougher to notice farther south. That makes the electronic warning system particularly helpful, Skaggs said.
“As your city grows, you can’t have one siren that reaches everywhere,” he said.
Skaggs ordered messages sent on Sunday and Tuesday after tornado warnings from the National Weather Service and hearing storm reports from Weld County. He promises the system won’t be used “every time a raindrop falls out of the sky.”
Residents in Jefferson, Broomfield and Douglas counties and in Aurora can register their wireless phone numbers to receive the emergency management messages. Denver, too, is considering an electronic message warning system, said Scott Field, deputy director of the city’s office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
An electronic system does take more time to send out alerts over densely populated areas.
“When you are dealing with something that has very little warning and not a lot of time, it depends on how many people you are trying to notify,” said Wendy Richards, a regional sales director at Sky Catcher Communications, which provides alert systems.
“We advise people to stay abreast of a number of different warning systems and to monitor a myriad of different sources,” said Brandon Williams, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.
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