Tornado warning siren test April 16

April 7, 2015

tornadoWEARE TWP. — Oceana County Emergency Management, in cooperation with Mason/Oceana 911, local fire departments, police departments and local municipalities, will conduct a test of the county warning sirens Thursday, April 16, at 2 p.m.

Next week, April 12-18, is National Weather Service Severe Weather Awareness Week, and the National Weather Service is conducting a statewide simulated tornado alert on April 16 as well. Emergency officials chose to participate on the same date and time with a test of each the sirens and their activation from the 911 control consoles. The county has eight active sirens: Pentwater Village, Crystal Valley, Walkerville, Hart City, Shelby Village, Ferry, New Era and Camp Miniwanca near Stony Lake. The sirens may sound several times as emergency personnel check the various activation methods. If there is any threatening weather in the area at test time, the test will be cancelled and rescheduled.

Tom Osborn, Oceana County Emergency Management Coordinator, reminds county citizens that sirens, as tornado alerts, have significant limitations due to range and reduced effectiveness for those indoors and should therefore be considered as just one of several means of being alerted to severe weather. However, if one hears a siren blowing the long steady warning tone during possible stormy weather, it means a tornado warning has been issued; a tornado has been indicated in the immediate area; and you need to take shelter immediately.

Other good sources of weather alert information include local broadcast TV and radio, weather radios, programmed and with fresh batteries, and cell phone alerts. Osborn notes that mobile alerting has made significant strides recently and that most modern smart phones will be automatically alerted if a tornado warning is indicated for the area the cell phone is in at the time of the warning. There are also a number of free weather apps that can be downloaded to phones that have severe weather alerting capabilities, including the WZZM-13 Weather App, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, AccuWeather, and WeatherBug.

Osborn also reminds us that tornadoes, while not common in our area, are certainly always a possibility and that we do have a history of tornadoes. He also reminds us that thunderstorm downdraft and straight-line winds, which we get almost every year to some extent, can be very strong and potentially more dangerous due to a larger areal coverage. Be aware during stormy weather; take shelter during any high wind event; consider every downed power line a live line; and don’t drive through moving water crossing a roadway.