Meredith Yeomans

Plano Transitions to Wail-Only Severe Weather Warning System

Outside Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, you can see symbols of faith, and an act of God.

"It looks like a construction zone," Pastor Caleb Beets said.

Hail hammered the church's roof during a severe storm on March 24. The damage is so bad most of the church is still closed for repairs.

"We needed to get anything that was wet that was trapping moisture out as quickly as possible," Beets said.

The church has come a long way in three weeks. Hundreds of volunteers helped clean up the rain-soaked ceiling and flooded floors.

Altogether, there is millions of dollars in of damage.

With another round of severe weather expected Wednesday night, Beets is praying disaster doesn't strike twice.

"If more hail came, that temporary roof is not designed to be able to withstand a hail impact," Beets said.

After the March storm, the city of Plano announced changes to its outdoor warning system.

"We noticed there was confusion," said Carrie Reyes, director of Plano’s Emergency Management Office.

Instead of seeking shelter, officials said people would walk outside to hear a voice message, putting themselves in potential danger.

On March 25, the city of Plano announced it would do away with the voice message. Now, people will hear the wail sound only.

"The only action we want people to take is to go inside when they hear a siren, and we had people becoming reliant and trying to hear what the siren was saying," Reyes said.

The city said the switch was in the works for a while, but the timing couldn't be better with severe weather season in full swing, a season that for some, can't end soon enough.

"It'll all be new again eventually. It'll just take time to get there," Beets said.

Reyes said it is a misconception that sirens activate for tornadoes only.

They can activate if:

  • The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning.
  • There's a severe thunderstorm with winds 70 miles per hour or stronger.
  • A trained storm spotter reports a tornado.
  • Hail is reported a 1.5” in diameter or larger.

The sirens hacked in two North Texas cities just over a month ago are up and running.

Officials in DeSoto and Lancaster said their sirens were set off intentionally.

Wednesday, both cities told NBC 5 their systems were up and running.

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