Unit 15: Outdoor Warning Sirens
Outdoor warning sirens are one way to be alerted to severe weather, but the keyword here is outdoor. Outdoor warning sirens are meant to alert those who are outside as a possible dangerous storm is approaching.
If you are outside and hear one of these sirens…you need to get a safe place preferably indoors as fast as possible and stay there until the threat is over. Once you are in a safe place, you can then check for other information.
The Outdoor Warning Sirens are tested on 136 sirens around Linn and Benton County on the first Wednesday of every month. Steve O’Konek, the Coordinator at the Linn County Emergency Management Agency explains that the tests can still go on as planned even if there’s rain.
O’Konek said, ”If it’s raining, there’s no watches there’s no warnings, there may be a rumble of thunder or two, a flash of lightning, we still continue will those tests.”
When the test is sounded there will be a voice before the whale noise, so if you don’t hear the voice before then you know you are in an area with dangerous weather approaching and should seek shelter. Even when the warning siren test goes off, it’s a great day to remind yourself of your severe weather plan.
You shouldn’t rely on sirens alone as they aren’t made for those inside and other factors can contribute if you can hear them.
”Weather conditions and weather atmospheric conditions affect the sound propagation of the siren as well. Sometimes topography, trees, hills get in the way of those sirens, so sometimes people hear them louder of the year and not as loud at other times of the year,” O’Konek added. This means just because you didn’t hear the sirens, does not mean they did not go off.
Each county may also have different rules on when they sound the sirens or when a test of the warning system could be postponed. For example, Linn County will still test the warning siren system with rain in the vicinity, but on the same day, Johnson County decided to postpone the test to the day after. You can find this information through your county’s emergency management agency. This is just another reason why you shouldn’t rely on outdoor sirens alone.
Having A NOAA Weather Radio along with the First Alert Weather App are great tools to have to get alerted to any watches and warnings issued for your area. You can you the camera on your phone to scan the QR code below to download the KCRG-TV9 First Alert Weather App.