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Tornado Sirens

Started by JMoses24, June 02, 2018, 07:58:56 PM

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Does your city or county have an outdoor tornado/civil defense warning siren system? If your city/county does, when do they test the system?

Here in Oklahoma City and surrounding cities, the outdoor sirens are checked with a silent test daily at 7am CT, and the audible tests occur every Saturday at noon CT. Doesn't matter if it's "in season" or not...they get checked. Of course, if severe weather is a threat on a particular Saturday, the audible test isn't done and the daily "silent" test is used to ensure proper operation.

Where I used to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, the sirens are checked monthly on the first Wednesday at noon unless bad weather threatens.


No testing whatsoever in my area of Jersey. We still  have sirens, but they've mostly been used for volunteer firefighters, and those alerts have been replaced by pagers then phone alerts. One town nearby still sounds their siren at Noon daily, just because they've always done it.

If a siren did go off for an emergency, I don't think people here would have any clue what to do.

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Pueblo County Colorado only has them near the Pueblo Chemical Depot east of the city of Pueblo, to be activated in the unlikely event of a chemical release. I don't know what their testing protocol is. As you move down the Arkansas River valley, where tornadoes become more likely as you move away from the mountains, you start to see them (La Junta?). I don't think Colorado Springs has them either, but don't know about the Denver area. Denver and north is sort of a mini-tornado alley.

I remember them in the Twin Cities, and I think the test was first Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. When I first moved there in the 1970s, it wasn't possible to isolate the zone that was activated, so our sirens would go off under a blue sky because of a tornado warning for a suburb 20 miles south of us. Later, activation was shifted over to the individual cities. Sometimes, in some cities the sirens would be activated for a strong thunderstorm that didn't have a reported tornado.
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In northeastern Illinois, it's the first Tuesday of the month, at 10:00 am.  Everyone looks up when they hear them and checks the clock.
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Every Wednesday at Noon (except if the weather looks questionable)
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I can't say I've ever heard one, but my work is in the middle of nowhere and probably miles from the nearest one.


My hometown had a Civil Defense siren that would get tested often, but I haven't heard it go off since the 1990s.
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Ours is tested every Wednesday at 5 PM, provided it's a sunny day.


I don't think there is one in the Upper Tampa Bay area. When I was on Long Island we used to have volunteer fire departments setting of their fire sirens every noon. A lot of times people who moved to Long Island from the Midwest used to write to Newsday and ask what this was all about thinking it was a tornado siren. Naturally, they were always trying to sooth their fears.



Indianapolis's are tested the first Friday of the month around 11:00. Most places in Indiana seem to be something similar to that, though some counties test weekly.

Of course, one other issue with tornado sirens are when they are actually used with severe weather. In Marion County, the sirens only go off for a Tornado Warning or if a tornado has actually been sighted (which usually coincides with a Tornado Warning anyway.)

But then you get your counties that activate them when there's a Tornado Watch and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. The problem with that section option is that there are then often times where there is no tornado at all and since the Thunderstorm Warning/Tornado Watch combo is more common it leads to the sirens going off a lot. After a while people didn't take the sirens too seriously. At least when the sirens go off for a Tornado Warning you know its serious.

On a similar note, I was on Maui last June and it was the First Monday of the month and apparently at 10:45 they test the sirens for tsunamis. I had to quickly check the Maui County website on my phone to make sure that it was indeed a test.


I was downtown on Wednesday and the VCU emergency sirens were tested at 12:00 noon.

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The sirens here are tested on the first Wednesday of the month at 10AM CT. The other day I got to hear Northeast Oklahoma's sirens. Because they sounded completely different from the sirens back home, I was both confused and concerned when the went off on the first Monday of November around either 1 or 2 PM. A few friends told me they simply slept through the last tornado, which can be concerning.

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I'm pretty sure Oklahoma City tests their sirens at noon on the first Saturday of every month. Took me by surprise when I was there, especially since there had just been a round of severe thunderstorms the night before.


Hawaii has lots of prominent civil defense sirens, mainly in coastal areas and used for tsunami warnings, though on the more disaster-prone Big Island (volcanoes, earthquakes) you also see them inland. See at the bottom of the page for photos of several siren varieties.
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In our area tornado sirens are tested at 1:00 pm on the month's first Saturday.  Some soccer parents complained that there should be no games scheduled at that time, because some sirens are in or near parks and it's too loud for the kids.


Fort Smith, AR tests theirs on Wednesdays around 12 Noon....when they work.
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We test ours on the first Wednesday of each month at noon from April to October, I think.


Quote from: thspfc on November 11, 2019, 08:12:14 AM
We test ours on the first Wednesday of each month at noon from April to October, I think.

If you're referring to Dane County, they're tested March thru November. West Bend, WI is every Saturday at noon.
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Ours is the first Monday of the month at noon.

There is also an Ohio statewide siren test/tornado drill that always occurs at 9:50 am on a Wednesday in mid to late March.


Throughout greater St. Louis, at least on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, we have tornado sirens all over the place as we inhabit a prime piece of Tornado Alley real estate. Ours are pretty religiously tested on the first Monday of every month at 11:00 a.m. The tests last for approximately two minutes.

In some of the more populous areas, such as in the business district and county government center in Clayton, a voice will sound over the tornado siren speakers announcing that a test had been conducted of the tornado emergency preparedness system, and that it was only a test. Where I live, in suburban west county, I have yet to hear a voice at the conclusion of the test.

Our tornado sirens sound a continuous tone which slightly oscillates at a varying rate depending on the age of the siren nearest you.


We dont have tornado sirens in NW FL. To me the tornado sirens are very ominous, I guess thats the idea so u pay attention.


Our test is the first Saturday of every month at noon, unless there is a chance of actual severe weather, then the test is cancelled to avoid confusion with a real emergency.
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No tornado sirens where I live. They do test sirens for the nuclear plants near Charlotte around four times a year, but I'm too far away to hear them.
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In my area, it's a siren for the nuclear power plant nearby...the test used to be the first Monday of every month at 2PM, now it's semi-annual, the first Monday of June and Dec.

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