Tornado sirens give way to new storm warning technology | News, Sports, Jobs


BOARDMAN – Local emergency management officials are working to ensure area residents have every possible benefit when it comes to being aware of severe weather.

Trouble arose on Sunday when a small tornado hit Boardman, leaving many wondering why the sirens they used to hear were quiet.

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as EF-0, the weakest level, with winds at 80 mph. A plaza near the Southern Park Mall was damaged by the storm just before 6 p.m., and the Tobacco Tavern suffered roof and interior damage.

The storm hit quickly, causing flooding and other damage to various parts of the county.

Andrew Frost III, director of the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency, said some sirens in the township went off, but the majority did not.

“It’s old, outdated equipment,” he said, noting that it’s hard to get parts to repair sirens. “We can’t trust them.”

The county is implementing a new alert system called IPAWS, or Integrated Public Alert & Warning System. Frost said he would broadcast warnings to almost every phone, similar to an Amber Alert.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency website says the IPAWS is also designed to alert radio and television stations of the impending threat.

Residents don’t have to sign up for the service, which Frost says will begin as soon as Boardman gets the go-ahead from FEMA.

Frost said once implemented, IPAWS and sirens alerts will be used simultaneously until there is enough feedback to decide if the sirens can be eliminated.


Becky Mercer of Oregon Trail behind Boardman Plaza said she received a phone alert about the tornado warning and went to her porch to see if the Market Street Fire Station siren went off, but that was not the case.

“I was super confused why they didn’t explode, especially since it hit a block away,” she said.

Julie Cleghorn lives on Brainard Drive, near Glenwood Avenue, and said she knew to take shelter only because she checked a weather app on her phone. The only notification she received was just before 7 p.m., when an alert on her phone warned her of flooding.

She said she understands sirens are outdated, but wonders what that means for people without electricity or cellphones.

“It would be convenient for me,” she said of a phone app. “I’m just worried about the elderly.”

Frost said the township has 52 mermaids. Of these, he cannot get coins for six or seven, he said.

They are tested twice a week, once on Monday via an internal software system and on Saturday at noon. Both tests of the system last week showed it was working, he said.

Frost acknowledged that the system is flawed and that there will always be those who don’t get the proper alerts due to power outages, lack of cellphone and internet access, and sleeping.

“My advice to families would be to buy a cheap weather radio,” he said. “They are very reasonable.”

The township is setting up a hotline to assess storm damage, and Frost said officials would pursue cleanup funds if available.

A news release from Boardman Administrator Jason Loree asks residents who suffered damage to call 330-716-0038 and leave their name, address, phone number and type of damage at the property.

“We are collecting this information in conjunction with the Mahoning County Emergency Management Office to try to get a disaster declaration. Please retain any photos or video of storm damage. As this process develops, assessment teams may contact those who call for on-site visits,” the statement read.


The Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency is working closely with Mahoning County officials. Director John E. Hickey said he and Frost “are absolutely on the same page” when it comes to mermaids.

“Tornado sirens are old technology,” he said, explaining that the cost of maintaining them is high. “We are doing what we can to upgrade them.”

He said his agency was not looking to phase out sirens, which are activated for tornado, thunderstorm, flood and snowfall warnings. Although he regularly receives phone calls from residents complaining that they cannot hear the sirens, he noted that they are not supposed to be heard inside. The sirens were put in place, he said, at a time when there was no other way to warn farmers and other people who worked outdoors to get on the phone. shelter.

Trumbull EMA received a federal grant nearly 20 years ago to purchase about 20 new sirens, Hickey said, and maintenance is the responsibility of each community.

A new notification system was put in place in July to alert Trumbull County residents to storm warnings. Hickey said residents must sign up for the alert, which comes by cell phone and email.

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