DENVER (CBS4)– The City of Denver is upgrading its tornado warning system as severe weather season gets underway in Colorado.

“You should always be prepared for severe weather at any time. Flooding, hail, rainstorms, lightening and of course tornados are always possible. Throughout the metro area,” said Denver Emergency Management spokesman Scott Field.

Denver is eager to modernize its system after Wednesday’s severe weather. The emergency warning sirens were tested just a few hours before the tornado warning was issued and Denver’s Emergency Management discovered some sirens didn’t work.

“I know we had a couple of issues which we do all the time. As I said the siren system is a little old. There are always a few issues every month,” said Field.

According to the Office of Emergency Management, although some weren’t working it is normal for a few sirens to need repair each year.

“We haven’t had any reports or calls. Normally when we have them in a real emergency and people don’t hear them we get calls. And we didn’t get any calls. Usually that’s a good sign,” said Field.

The sirens in Denver are dated. Fifty-six were installed right after World War II.

“They’ve served the city very well, but they don’t make parts for them anymore. Maintenance is becoming an issue. So we’ve gotten funding for a capital improvement project,” said Field. “We have some significant coverage gaps including Stapleton, Lowry. Some of the fastest growing parts of the city are without siren coverage.”

By next year, all 77 sirens in Denver will be rearranged to best serve the city. They also plan to install a new high tech system.

“By this time next year, by next tornado season we should have a totally new modern system,” said Field.

The Denver City Council will have to approve the funds and bids for contracts will be submitted.

There will be a statewide test of the tornado warning system on April 17 to coincide with Severe Weather Awareness Week.


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