Your Storm Siren Questions Answered

Posted on: 2:22 pm, June 27, 2013, by , updated on: 03:08pm, June 28, 2013

They are meant to warn you about the weather, but many people say they’re more confusing than helpful.

When storms came through the Quad City area on Monday, June 24th, 2013, the storm sirens sounded… signifying weather warnings for some, but causing confusion for others.

News 8′s Angie Sharp spoke with Jerry Shirk, Director of Rock Island County’s Emergency Management Agency on Thursday, June 27th, 2013.

Our first question – who are the sirens for?

“The outdoor sirens are not for everybody,” says Shirk. “They’re for the people that are outside.”

Next – why do they go off?

“The sirens go off when a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service and/or it’s been sighted by a trained weather spotter or law enforcement,” says Shirk. “They’re also activated when a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service and that’s if the winds would exceed 70 miles per hour or there’s the possibility of golf ball-sized hail.”

“What you’re going to hear is the sirens going off for about 3 or 5 minutes and they’re going to do that about every 10 or 15 minutes until the warning is no longer.”

Finally – what if you don’t hear the sirens?

Shirk says since they’re meant for people outside, those already safely inside should turn on their televisions, radios, and weather radios when severe weather is on the way.

“I can’t emphasize enough the usefulness of a weather radio,” says Shirk. “If you don’t have a weather radio, you can go to any of the big box stores and pick up a weather radio for probably $15. That’s a very important thing to have in your home.”

Shirk says Rock Island County and Scott County share the same policy for storm sirens. Both counties test their sirens on the first Tuesday of every month at 10am.

Click here for more information from the National Weather Service.

Check out more video, photos and coverage of damage from the June 24 storms – click here.

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