The city of Dunwoody has installed severe weather warning sirens at Dunwoody Park and Brook Run Park, which tested its alert system during the week of Oct. 13.
The sirens are designed as an outside warning device to assist in alerting people in the immediate area of imminent severe and dangerous weather, Dunwoody Parks Director Brent Walker said.
The sirens will activate when conditions create a threat of a tornado, a thunderstorm with winds at 70 mph or higher, and golf-ball sized hail or larger. Residents within a 1-mile radius can hear the sirens, including from indoors in many instances, Walker said, so residents near the parks also will be able to hear the warnings.
“The parks are a good place to put these devices,” Walker said.
According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes claimed 55 lives in 2013, down from 70 in 2012.
The lightning detection system will let people know when they need to take cover, Walker said, but the system also will warn when lightning is possible.
Gerri Penn, chair of the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals and president of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, said she feels the city needs more sirens to give its citizens and visitors the best chance of staying safe if there is a tornado or high velocity winds.
Last summer, Penn said, her neighbor and her neighbor’s three children were saved from injury because of the sirens in Cobb County. “Her husband heard the sirens in Cobb County and called to tell her to go to the basement—right before the tree hit the room they were in and did serious damage,” Penn said.
For the Dunwoody Park baseball fields, the warning system will include a signal for coaches to get players off the field and to wait for an “all-clear” before returning to play, he said.
City Councilman Denis Shortal said the tornado siren systems are a life-saving device that should be added throughout the city before a calamity strikes. “You have to anticipate it,” he said.
Shortal described sitting at Brook Run Park when a tornado hit about two years ago. He said he was warned of hazardous weather approaching by a police officer, and he checked his phone app for weather advice. Shortal said that one of the benefits to the sirens is that they are a passive device, where residents don’t have to actively think to check a phone application or have a weather radio nearby.
“I drove home at 10 miles per hour, watching trees fall,” he said. “If there’d been sirens, I’d have known without looking at my phone.”