City leaders explain siren concerns in Wichita Falls

Local News

UPDATE: Oct. 29, 5:55 p.m.

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — City officials said they have found out what was making those sounds and may have a solution to the problem.

Though many people think it is aliens or the signal of the apocalypse, city officials said it actually was the recent weather behind it all.

The sound and others like it has many people in Wichita Falls concerned.

Some described it as a rumbling, others an air horn or siren.

“I think I was a little creeped out because I was alone in the station, I was alone in the studio when I heard the noise so that kinda freaked me out a little bit,” 94.9 The Outlaw James Cook said.

For a while now, residents have reported hearing emergency sirens across Wichita Falls just going off different times of the day and no answers to why or where it was coming from.

Wichita Falls resident and 94.9 The Outlaw Radio Personality James Cook said this is the first time anything like this has happened in Wichita Falls but he believes there is a good reason why Texomans would be this concerned about the noise.

“The town takes anything with a siren seriously because of the ’79 tornado,” Cook said. “I don’t really remember the tornado that much as much as I remember the fear my parents and everyone’s parents that are around my age, taking a look outside, they take the sirens very seriously in this town.”

Wichita Falls Director of Transportation John Burrus said after contacting the manufacturers of the city’s emergency outdoor warning system, they believe they know what the issue could be, and the change of weather is the main factor.

“With the cold moist air what we’re seeing or what the manufacturer thinks is happening is that moisture is getting inside that keypad and as the weather cools with that warm weather it’s forming condensation,” Burrus said.

Burrus said that condensation serves as a bridge between electronics causing the systems to go off on their own sporadically.

The only solution he said is to remove the keypads from the systems.

“Our apologies to the public, we hope this fixes it,” Burrus said.

Cook said now that there is an explanation, he and other residents can be at ease.

Burrus said his team has been working all afternoon to remove the keypads from all 56 systems but if anyone still hears the sounds after this to give the department a call at 940-761-7640.

The keypads at each site are used only for checking individual units and disconnecting them will not affect activating the sirens in the event of an emergency.

UPDATE: Oct. 28, 2:16 p.m.

The City of Wichita Falls released this statement, concerning the uncontrolled activation of an individual warning unit:

“The City of Wichita Falls Traffic Engineering Division would like to thank the public for bringing this issue to our attention. After visiting with the manufacturer’s representative, it appears that the keypad independently and sporadically malfunctioned in several local outdoor warning units.

According to the representative, condensation can form inside the keypad, thus “bridging” the connection to activate the unit. The keypad is located inside the unit, but it is not sealed to protect it from air within the outdoor warning unit cabinet.

The representative informed City staff that cold, moist weather like we’ve been having has caused similar problems both locally, regionally, and nationally.

The keypad is only used to activate the unit onsite, and it has been the City’s policy to keep the keypad connected in the event an individual unit must be used by emergency management officials.

As a result of this issue, the keypad will be disconnected at all 56 individual locations around the City.

If emergency management officials need to use an individual unit onsite, the keypad will be reconnected at the time of use.

It should be noted that disconnecting the keypad will not impact the City’s ability to activate a unit or the entire system using traditional methods.”

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Residents in certain areas of Wichita Falls heard an unfamiliar alarm around 7 a.m. and again around 4:30 p.m.

The source of the sound and exact location are unknown at this time.

Officials with the city of Wichita Falls said that city sirens are working fine with no abnormalities.

Stick with Texoma’s Homepage as this story develops.

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