When sirens sound, check the skies
By Ann Cantrell
Even if the siren for a tornado warning is no longer going off, the tornado warning may still be in effect.
Gwen Ruark, emergency management director, said that people often think there is no longer a tornado warning after the first siren sounds stop.
“Most people get confused because they think the sirens are not going off,” said Ruark.
In fact, the first set of sirens is only the beginning of a tornado warning. When a tornado is spotted the 911 dispatchers set off the siren three consecutive times for one minute each time.
When the tornado warning is no longer in effect, the siren will sound once for about one minute.
Ruark said that a lot of people call the 911 center once a siren has gone off, to find out what the siren means. She said that when a siren goes off, people should seek shelter instead.
She also recommended that individuals pay attention to the developing weather through television or radio. A National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) radio can be purchased at places such as Radioshack and will alert people tornado warnings in their area.
A tornado warning is announced when the actual funnel clouds have been spotted. If a tornado warning is issued, a tornado has not necessarily touched the ground, but Ruark said that people still need to be careful.
“You’re never sure where it is finally going to reach the ground,” she remarked.
Last year, funnel clouds were spotted around Godfrey, tracked to Botswick, and finally touched down in Oconee County.
The tornado season is from March to May, with April being the main month. Nationally, this year has been one of the most active years for tornadoes. Once the final siren sounds, the danger has not completely passed. Ruark said that people should not walk through wreckage and should be very careful due to fallen lines and the possibility of electrocution.