When a small tornado touched down in Marysville on June 6, residents may have noticed that tornado sirens in town remained silent. Marysville fire chief Gary Johnson said there's an easy explanation.

When a small tornado touched down in Marysville on June 6, residents may have noticed that tornado sirens in town remained silent. Marysville fire chief Gary Johnson said there's an easy explanation.

"It wasn't deemed a tornado until after the fact," Johnson said. "The tornado sirens do not go off until there is an actual tornado warning issued, and there was no warning issued."

A tornado classified as an EF0 touched down at 5:34 a.m. Sunday, June 6, on the south side of Marysville, causing extensive damage to several properties around London Avenue. No one was injured during the storm, but numerous trees were knocked down and at least one house lost its roof.

The Early Warning System (EWS), commonly referred to as 'tornado sirens,' is made up of a networked system of 10 sirens, according to the system's description on Marysville's website. They are silently tested on a daily basis, audibly tested on a weekly basis, and tested once a month by a backup system located at the county dispatch center. In the event of an actual tornado warning, the sirens sound for three minutes in a steady mode, which is repeated every 10 minutes until the warning is cancelled by the appropriate authority, according to the system's description.

Johnson said that although the EWS is important, it is only one way residents should prepare themselves for severe weather.

"Tornado sirens are only one tool in a tool box for warning people," Johnson said. "We always encourage people to get a weather radio, which will alert them as well to other severe weather warnings beside tornado warnings. Tornado sirens are primarily outdoor warning devices if you're in your home, or your car, they might not be a reliable way to be alerted."

Johnson said Marysville also operates AM station 1560, which broadcasts severe weather alerts and warnings, and currently partners with the county on a system known as Code Red, which has been in effect for about six years.

The Code Red alert is a system that residents can sign up with that sends out automated phone calls in the event of an emergency, according to Johnson. The system can contact residents county-wide, or can target specific areas of the city or county, as was the case with those in the area affected by the June 6 tornado. The Code Red alerts can be issued for a variety of occurrences, including missing children, wild fires, flood disasters, gas leaks, hazardous transportation accidents, train derailments, toxic plumes, non-emergency notifications, possible major weather disasters, public health warnings, and several other instances. The system can recognize the difference between a human voice and a voicemail recording, and also provides a detailed audit trail so county and city officials can see who did or did not receive a notification.

Johnson said that Marysville and Union County split the cost of the Code Red system; residents wishing to sign up with the alerts receive no charge.

Residents interested in signing up for the Code Red system can do so online at www.marysvilleohio.org, by calling the Union County Sheriff's office at 937-645-4110 or by calling Marysville's main switchboard line at 937-642-6015.

lrice@thisweeknews.com