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How do you respond to a tornado siren?

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Wide White: How do you respond to a tornado siren?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

How do you respond to a tornado siren?

We hear the sirens once a month at noon in most cities doing their regular tests. Most people I know call it a tornado alarm or a tornado siren.

But in Dakota County, it's not used strictly for tornadoes. It's also used for thunderstorms.

The Star Tribune was looking for people to interview about alarms that went off this weekend in Dakota County. I talked to a reporter who told me that alarms in our county are used for any severe thunderstorm as well as tornadoes.

We also happen to be the only county in the Twin Cities metro (maybe the state?) that uses our sirens this way.

This seems way too confusing since it renders the alarm virtually worthless to respond to in many cases. Dakota County's feeling is that we should all check the TV or the internet for weather updates to see what to do.

Isn't the siren supposed to be telling us what to do rather than a TV or phone? The siren should mean, "Run! Find cover now!" It doesn't, which does a disservice to anyone without immediate access to a TV or the internet.

You can read their article here.

Here are the last few paragraphs:
Joey White heard the sirens at his Burnsville home Saturday night. He pulled up the radar on his cell phone, and seeing no impending danger, wondered why the siren sounded.

"It seemed a little odd to me," he said. "The expectation with most communities is that the siren means tornado."

Yet White's reaction is exactly what [Dakota County emergency preparedness coordinator Dave] Gisch and other emergency officials hope for -- a pause, a search for more information, and if conditions warrant it, a move toward emergency shelter.

"We have citizens that say [we're] crying wolf," Gisch said. "Our response is, we would rather warn you that there's a storm warning and it's up to you to decide what you want to do."
What do you think?


Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

I hate Dakota County's policy and I find it absolutely ridiculous. Based on my recent poll about thunderstorms and the resounding response that 96% of those responding like them (N=63), Dakota needs to let people know only when it's absolutely necessary to take cover.

The line about how they want people taking the time to research and get safe each and every time is a load of crap. After a while it just becomes background noise ("Oh, the sirens are blaring? Must have been a rain drop detected in Castle Rock again.")

7/01/2010 7:58 AM  
Blogger Joe Duea declared,

I live in West Burnsville about a mile from the Scott county border so I pretty much hat the way that Dakota county does it. If they have a thunderstorm in Hastings my sirens go off as well. Of course my wife the minute she hears a siren want to run downstairs and pull the mattress over her head so given that they set them off for a slight breeze some days it makes my job to add clarity to the situation quite difficult. They need to change their strategy in my opinion.

7/01/2010 9:24 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Joe, we probably hear the same siren then. I'm about a mile from Savage too.

7/01/2010 10:15 AM  
Blogger kristi noser declared,

Hudson's siren is the same or worse. One time it went off in Hudson after the storm had passed, and a tornado was trashing a town 15 miles away. I am hard-pressed to find anyone who even goes to the basement--much less run--at the sound of the siren. Crying wolf indeed.

7/03/2010 3:25 PM  
Blogger Pat Stream declared,

At most I look up. Like Kristi said, St. Croix county is the largest in WI and when a small little cell in the north east corner appears, the Hudson sirens blare. Silly and stupid. Sometimes I do look at the radar just to see how far away the storm is and laugh.

7/04/2010 8:03 AM  
Blogger Keelie declared,

I can't remember the last time I heard a siren! If I did, I'd be very concerned, so to have it go off all the time would be frustrating and I'd probably start ignoring it.

7/10/2010 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Blada declared,

We're finally catching up on posts and I scrolled down to this one and started to smile immediately. We remember when moving out here and hearing the siren go off when it didn't appear to be a tornado warning and wondering what the fuss was about !!

7/22/2010 11:39 PM  

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