Technical malfunction causes tornado sirens to sound

10 months 1 week 4 days ago March 10, 2016 Mar 10, 2016 Thursday, March 10 2016 Thursday, March 10, 2016 4:51:00 AM CST in News
By: James Packard, KOMU 8 Digital Producer, and Megan Kelly, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Boone County officials confirmed a technical malfunction caused tornado sirens to sound early Thursday morning.

“They have replaced the component that malfunctioned, but one of the things we don’t know is what caused that malfunctioned,” Terry Cassil said, Director of Boone County Emergency Management.

Cassil said one of Columbia's tornado sirens went off at 12:17 a.m. KOMU 8 News viewers began posting on Facebook and calling the newsroom about 12:20 a.m. to report the sirens. The siren was sounding for 23 minutes, and was shut off at 12:40 a.m., according to Boone County officials.

Columbia resident Mike Wolfe lives next to the tornado siren and woke up early Thursday when it went off. He said he was too concerned about his safety to go back to sleep.

“I was wanting to check on it and see if maybe a different part of town was hurt. I’ve got family in different parts of Columbia. I was just worried,” Wolfe said.

Boone County Joint Communications said it had technicians looking into the problem as of 1 a.m. Thursday morning. Officials said they were confident the malfunction was isolated to the single siren, and was not a symptom of a larger issue.

This siren is one of the oldest ones in the county and had a similar malfunction three years ago.

KOMU 8 First Alert Weather's Tim Schmidt said there were no tornadoes in the area Thursday morning. 

"While there were showers in the area this morning, conditions were not favorable for tornadoes," Schmidt said. 

In October, tornado sirens sounded after a dispatcher accidentally activated them while trying to conduct a radio test. 

Boone County Emergency Management said all Boone County tornado sirens are maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

Boone County Emergency Services Deputy Director Tom Hurley sent an email to nearby residents Thursday afternoon apologizing for the disruption.

Cassil said officials will continue to investigate what caused the siren's mechanical error. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more information about the malfunction.] 

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