The city’s weekly emergency warning siren system test, conducted at noon each Wednesday, has been shortened in order to make the test less intrusive to the public. The test, formerly consisting of a 15-second horn and 60-second wail with voice messages in between, is now a seven-second horn and 20-second wail with voice messages in between. The horn tone used is the same exact tone designated for tornado warnings.
At approximately 11:30 last Sunday night during a severe thunderstorm warning event, the National Weather Service detected rotation within a storm cell moving towards the downtown area and issued a tornado warning. As a result, four sirens sounded a tornado warning within the weather service’s issued polygon, including those located at the Ozark, Arlington, Weyerhaeuser and Holly Street locations. “This represents only the second time the city’s emergency warning system has been automatically activated by the National Weather Service,” Public Works Director Denny McPhate said. “The sirens are operating as designed, functioning as early warnings for emergencies.”
Two additional emergency warning sirens are planned to be installed this year at the corner of Casey Street and Bayshore Drive as well as the corner of Howard Street and Millcreek Road, bringing the total number of sirens to 15. In future years, six more sirens will be added to complete coverage throughout the city.