Saturday, August 30, 2008

Storm Sirens - Do You Know How They Work?

The January 2008 tornadic storms that hit the area brought to light a subject that needs some attention. Once the sirens go off, when is it all clear?

The storms that occurred January 7th and 8th trained through the area, which basically means several storms followed the same path through, some with very little time in between. This caused a worst case scenario for the storm siren subject. Many people I talked to believe that when the sirens go off a second time, that means it's all clear. I HAVE NOT FOUND ONE INSTANCE WHERE THIS IS TRUE. Notice the all caps? That's because it's important to understand. STORM SIRENS DO NOT HAVE AN ALL CLEAR SIGNAL.

I polled several area emergency managers, and some of them were kind enough to respond. Here is what I found out about some of the sirens in SW MO counties:

Christian County:
  • Sirens are controlled at a city level
  • Most of them have 3 minute cycles with no all clear
Greene County:
  • Sirens are activated by Greene County officials
  • Approximately 80 sirens in the Greene County metro area activated by Greene County officials
  • Sirens in Ash Grove, Willard, Battlefield and Strafford activated by Greene County officials
  • Sirens are divided in North, South, West and East quadrants
  • Any section can be turned on independently, or they can be turned on all at once
  • Fair Grove, Walnut Grove, Rogersville and Republic turn on their sirens independently
  • Sirens run for 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off during duration of warning
  • There is no all clear signal given
McDonald County:
  • Sirens stay on for duration of warning
  • No all clear signal given
Dade County:
  • Lockwood, Greenfield, Everton and Arcola sirens sound 2 minutes on, 1 minute off
  • No all clear signal given
So of the few responses I received, the theme is consistent. STORM SIRENS DO NOT HAVE AN ALL CLEAR. If you hear the sirens, you should be taking shelter.

If anyone has information on other counties, please feel free to email me the information.

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