Outdoor Warning System Sirens, Emergency or Test?

Outdoor Warning System Sirens, Emergency or Test?
Outdoor Warning System siren with dark clouds in the background before severe weather conditions. | Image by Alif Ramadhan

Many communities throughout the country are preparing their tornado sirens as spring threatens to bring severe weather. The City of Dallas tests their Outdoor Warning System emergency sirens on the first Wednesday of each month at noon. 

According to the City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management, the Outdoor Warning System, or OWS, is meant to alert individuals outdoors that there is an emergency.

After hearing the sirens, you should go indoors and follow up with a news source or a weather radio. Throughout the Dallas area, OWS has 168 locations.

The Office of Emergency Management says they frequent the upkeep of the OWS to ensure its continued maintenance and performance. 

OWS Is Not Just To Alert Of Severe Weather

Severe weather is vital to alert the public, especially if it can produce a tornado. The OWS does an excellent job at this, but tornadoes are not the only emergency the sirens are used for.

According to the City of Dallas, here are all situations that qualify for siren alerts:

  • The National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning for areas in and around the City of Dallas. 
  • The National Weather Service issues a Severe Thunderstorm Warning with sustained winds in excess of 70 mph for areas in and around the City of Dallas.
  • Trained storm spotters have reported a tornado in the City of Dallas, or in a neighboring jurisdiction with the potential to affect the City of Dallas.
  • Reported hail of 1.5″ in diameter or greater (size may be adjusted for areas or events where large numbers of people are outdoors).
  • Other emergency situations as deemed by the Office of Emergency Management.

In addition to alerting the public of severe weather, Outdoor Warning Systems are in place to alert to dangerous situations, according to weather.com. This opens up an opportunity to save more lives in events such as active shootings, hazardous waste spills, gas leaks, etc. 

How To Know If It Is A Test or A Real Emergency?

The Office of Emergency Management says the siren will continue for three to five minutes before ceasing during a real emergency. It will also be continuous. The monthly tests occur on the first Wednesday of the month at noon and will not happen during severe weather or if there is a chance of severe weather. If you are unsure of the conditions near you, it is better to get indoors and search local news for updated information affecting the city.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article