With the warning or not? When to activate sirens

CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s the sound most commonly associated with tornadoes. A siren, warning of severe weather, telling people to seek shelter. However, they are referred to as all hazard warning sirens. Meaning, they can warn of more than a tornado.

“We could set them off for a chemical leak or a train derailment,” TEMA Director Smokey Anderson said. “Basically when you hear the sirens, we want you to go inside and seek more information.”

In the case of a tornado, or noticeable rotation in the sky, it’s normal protocol for emergency officials to set off the sirens after a warning is given by the National Weather Service. As Clinton County officials experienced Tuesday night, after a funnel cloud was spotted, that is not always the case.

“We had legitimate, numerous reports of this,” Central Dispatch Director Renee Crick said. “The National Weather Service told me they weren’t at that point going to issue [a warning], unless it did come down. I just felt it was necessary.”

Tuesday evening Crick received word from several trained weather spotters a funnel cloud was forming. From there, she decided to activate the sirens in Forest and Michigantown.

Officials said it’s nice to have the trained spotters on the ground instead of solely relying on the National Weather Service. However, they said it probably won’t become the norm.

“The National Weather Service does a very good job,” Anderson said. “They typically alert us before we can see.”

“You don’t want to cry wolf. You don’t want people to get complacent in hearing those sirens and not taking it seriously,” Crick said. “So, it is a very important task.”

Crick said it’s more important for the spotters and NWS to work together.

“We rely on technology, but of course what [the spotters] may be seeing at the time and what we have trained spotters seeing could be just a little bit off.

Crick said there is no evidence the funnel cloud ended up touching down Tuesday night.

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