For a few minutes tornado sirens were all people could hear in parts of Platte and Clay counties around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
— Kat Boutwell (@Producer_Kat) May 19, 2017
According to Kansas City’s Office of Emergency Management, a citizen called 911 to report a tornado in the area of Highway 152 and North Brighton.
“The police department picked up the phone, contacted the fire department, advised them they had a report of a tornado,” Stephen Bean, KCMO emergency management coordinator, said.
The fire department, which is in charge of activating of the outdoor warning system in KCMO, had a tough choice in a matter of seconds.
“The circumstances around it – the hail, the high winds, all the severe weather we were having – a tornado kind of fit the model so to speak, so they hit the button on the wall and activated the sirens,” Bean said.
It caught residents like Sabrina Gilchrist-Walters by surprise.
“I was like oh my gosh, they’re not saying anything on the news but I started getting the candles, getting things prepared just in case,” Gilchrist-Walters said.
Within three minutes, the KCMO Office of Emergency Management didn’t find supporting evidence of a tornado so sirens were turned off
“We didn’t really think too much of it,” Mary Cribello, who heard the sirens, said.
But Cribello is glad that the city erred on the side of caution, as is Gilchrist-Walters.
“It just gives everybody a chance to pay attention to their surrounding of what’s going on cause that made me turn from the channel that I was watching to the local news,” Gilchrist-Walters said.
“One of the worst things that could happen, that we could have happen, is late at night a rain-wrapped tornado in a populated area. That’s just not a scenario that you want to take a chance on,” Bean said.
KCMO OEM encourages residents to sign up for alerts on http://kcmo.gov/alertkc/