Olive Branch, Mississippi will be the first Desoto County city to go high tech in alerting those who live there of dangerous weather if the city adopts a new alert system. The alerts you get depend on how you customize the Code Red Alert System to your liking, and in many ways, it will either compliment the old tornado sirens, or it could make them obsolete.
Drive any Olive Branch road and there are tree limbs piled up from Sunday night's wicked weather. It wasn't the nastiest to strike the city. Three years ago, the city was hit by two tornadoes in two months.
"Yeah, back in 2009 in the middle of June, and late July the national weather service confirmed them as F-2 tornadoes, not the worst, but any tornado can be deadly," recalls Olive Branch Mayor Sam Rikard.
Mayor Rikard also has his broadcast meteorology certificate from Mississippi State. The mayor admits, he's always been interested in weather, since about the 5th grade.
"I wanted to be a major league baseball player or a weather man."
Mayor Rikard's most recent pitch to the Board of Alderman, a new weather alert system called Code Red, for the city of Olive Branch.
"The part that most people would be interested in is the storm warning part of it where the National Weather Service issues a warning or watch and if you are in that polygon that weather people talk about, it will e-mail you or, depending on your location in that polygon, you may not get a call," he said. "Your cell phone goes off right where you are and all of us have that cell phone in our pocket at all times."
If the system's adopted by the city of Olive Branch, all you will have to do if you live in the O.B. is go to the city's website and register your info and decide on what alerts you want to receive.
"You may not be concerned about a flash flood watch, but you may be concerned about a tornado warning, so you can click the boxes, on either one of them, and all this is determined by you," says Rikard. "This is just another way of using today's technology to get the word out instantly."
The Code Red alert system costs about $20,000 a year, which is what it costs to build just one tornado warning siren.