Weather siren sounds wrong warning during storm - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Weather siren sounds wrong warning during storm

There are dozens of weather warning sirens located across Shelby County.  However, several failed warn anybody for a time on Tuesday.

"This is only a test!"

That's all that was heard from a siren in Cordova.  An Action News Five viewer recorded video and audio in his backyard, in disbelief.

"That shouldn't happen," said Gerald Jones.

He has lived in unincorporated Cordova for seven years, fewer than 100 yards from the siren.

"Normally, in the past, it would give us a warning saying "severe weather approaching, tornado approaching," or something like that," said Jones.

The Memphis-Shelby County Emergency Management Agency activates the sirens from a control center.  That's where we went for answers.  Operations Officer Tommy Thompson admits he hit a wrong button Tuesday night.  The mistake was made after the automatic warning system malfunctioned.

"And I had to manually go through set-off all the sirens every three minutes," says Thompson.

That's when he hit the wrong button and set-off the mis-leading message.

Sirens were back to blaring out real warnings within minutes.

"People's lives are at stake, you know?" said Jones.

A real warning is the only thing Gerald Jones and others want to hear when bad weather threatens.  The EMA is now working with the siren company to lessen the chance of a system malfunction.  That will cut down on the opportunity for human error.

Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.

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