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DO NOT rely on tornado sirens

I wrote this article just this past September. If you are relying on the tornado sirens to alert you of severe weather you are not safe, nor are you prepared for severe weather season. After a round of tornadic storms over the weekend, an extremely alarming amount of people were complaining that the sirens didn't go off.

While the exact reason for that is unclear, one tornado was reported near Hudson before any tornado warning was issued, therefore there was no siren to sound. These storms were also very fast movers, moving at highway speeds from 45 mph to about 60 mph. Some of these would escape the warning polygon before it expired and a new warning would have to be issued. After the first couple of reports in Black Hawk County, broad tornado warnings were issued well in advance of the storm and therefore the sirens should have gone off. KWWL is inquiring to emergency managers as to why so many people were reporting not hearing the sirens.

I'll be frank with you though: it doesn't matter. The only group of people that the lack of sirens disadvantages are people that are outside. TORNADO SIRENS ARE SOLELY MEANT FOR PEOPLE OUTDOORS. With the COVID situation and with storms in the forecast I would be willing to bet that most people were indoors for a majority of the day. If so, tornado sirens are simply not a reliable method of receiving warnings.

Instead, you need to have a weather radio with you that is programmed correctly to the county in which you reside. Have multiple ways to receive warning in addition to a weather radio. Many people commented that they also received warning through their weather app. Download ours below.

Bottom line: if you want to protect yourself, your family, and your pets you simply cannot wait for the tornado siren to go off. Get yourself a weather radio.

Brandon Libby

Meteorologist

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