Tornado sirens receive upgrade in Boone County

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COLUMBIA- Residents of Boone County will experience a new tornado warning system this week.

The Columbia Boone County Office of Emergency Management updated tornado sirens all across Boone County to only activate sirens in more threatened zones.

Boone County will be divided into three zones: north, central and south.

The Office of Emergency Management now has the ability to activate sirens in one, two or all three zones.

Previously, if a tornado touched down in Boone County, all sirens across Boone County would go off. 

But now if a tornado touched down, sirens in non-affected areas would not go off. 

If a tornado strikes in Centralia, the tornado sirens in Ashland and Columbia could remain silent.

"It's very important when the public hears the sirens now, it means that there's a tornado within that zone," Office of Emergency Management Public Information Officer Martina Pounds "So we are really encouraging people to take shelter immediately and not to wait."

Pounds said the changes are a result of resident requests and the need to provide a more accurate warning system.

"We did that to avoid siren fatigue," Pounds said. "People were getting warnings, but they were saying this is far north and this doesn't affect us, so why are we hearing the sirens."

The siren systems were updated in February, but Tuesday will mark the first official test of the new system.

Even though the system underwent changes, residents will still hear the all-siren test on Tuesday.