February 9, 2023

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La Plata false alarm: Residents confused by tornado sirens

3 min read

Tornado sirens went off in La Plata during Monday’s storms, but the town was never under a tornado warning.

LA PLATA, Md. — Tornado sirens went off in La Plata, Maryland, during Monday’s storms. As it turns out, La Plata was never under a tornado warning for those storms.

This warning was so far west didn’t even include Indian Head. However, tornado sirens went off across the entire county.   

“So you’ve got the tornado sirens going off from La Plata, because they just see that Charles County’s included, they don’t see that it’s northwestern Charles county. Everyone’s going crazy. They want to know what’s going on. And it’s these 1950s-style sirens that are going off, and it creates this mass panic,” said forecaster John Bordash.  

Places like La Plata and Waldorf, that were not included in the tornado warning, nor did they have a threat of tornadic activity, still had sirens going off Monday.

“I mean, it would be nice if it was a little more accurate. And then this way, I don’t have to uproot my life to make sure the safety of my family is secure,” said one La Plata resident.

So why is this happening? We reached out to the Mayor of La Plata, Jeannine E. James, to find out more. Her office sent us a briefing that the entire county got. It states that Charles County Emergency Management will sound the alarms everywhere if there is a tornado anywhere in the county.   

“I think that’s crazy, because then everybody goes into panic mode when there’s nothing to worry about. So setting people up for something, and scaring them when they shouldn’t have to go through that,” said one Charles County resident.

When we reached out to see if the county had any intention of updating their siren technology, they offered no comment.

“Publicly elected officials should be addressing upgrading this county,” a Charles County resident said.

The town of La Plata is no stranger to tornadic activity. Two decades ago this small town of about 9,000 was hit by the biggest tornado to ever hit the D.C. region.

With winds pushing 200 miles per hour, the tornado killed three people, injured dozens and ripped up more than $100 million in homes and businesses.

“I think there is a better way to let people know that there is a tornado warning for the county you’re in. That doesn’t include going with a siren when it doesn’t include us,” Bordash said.

RELATED: La Plata marks 20 years since the largest tornado to hit the D.C. region

RELATED: What you should do if you are caught in a storm outdoors

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2022-09-15 13:12:45

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