National Weather Service: EF-1 tornado touched down in Norman

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NORMAN – New storm sirens left folks in Norman a bit confused during Wednesday’s storms.

The strange siren sound that rang out was a glitch, according to Norman fire Chief Travis King.

“Well, that tone was different than our test tone and our manual mode tone,” King said.

The sound of the storms and the sirens were enough to scare many people, like the Walden family.

“I lived here all my life,” said Fred Walden. “It’s the first one I really heard.”

The National Weather Service said an EF 1 tornado ripped through parts of Norman near 36th Ave NE and Tecumseh, out toward Lake Thunderbird.

The twister also went right through Walden’s front yard.

“The front porch is messed up,” Walden said. “It got some kind of damage on the support of the front porch. That’s what’s bothering me the most.”

There was something else that left people in a state of confusion.

“The tone went out on the auto fire, was kind of a high low, which sounded different than what our residents are use to, and that’s where the confusion came,” King said.

Walden said he figured it was warning.

“I thought it was a tornado warning,” he said. “I just thought it might be a different kind.”

Norman installed a new software for its storm sirens this week.

“When it auto fires based on a National Weather Service tornado warning, it receives that signal and it auto fires our sirens,” King said.

A glitch in the software made the tone of the siren sound different. The city told us they couldn’t test the automatic function without a real tornado warning being issued.

“We’re not able to test under that auto fire mode, so we had to wait for, with real life conditions and then obviously figured out by this morning when we were on the line with the a programmer that that error had taken place,” King said.

Walden said he doesn’t care how the siren sounds; as long as he gets a warning, he’s pleased.

“It was weird, but an alert is an alert,” he said. “If it wants to sound whatever it wants to sound like as it tells me something’s coming, I’m fine with it.”

The sirens went off in Norman five times automatically and three times manually.

by Kelsey Gibbs (2018, May 3) KFOR

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Kyrie Wagner