Sirens will sound around Sedgwick County as officials calibrate new warning system

Residents in Wichita and around Sedgwick County can expect to hear outdoor warning sirens periodically over the next week or so as officials calibrate new software.

The software will allow authorities to activate only those sirens in the direct path of geographic areas included in tornado warnings. The calibration ensures the new electronic monitoring system is tuned to each individual device, Sedgwick County spokeswoman Amanda Matthews said.

“All the sirens have their equipment installed,” John Crosby, deputy director of Sedgwick County Emergency Management, said in an e-mail response to questions. “This phase insures that each device responds and reports back correctly.”

Sirens may be sounded more than once during the calibration process, he said. The calibration process began last week.

There are now 147 outdoor warning sirens in Wichita and outlying areas of the county. But emergency management officials caution that the sirens are just one layer of the warning process and are intended only to warn those who are outdoors.

Residents who hear sirens and have doubts that it is only a test are encouraged to monitor their weather radios and local media outlets for more information, Matthews said.