|What does hearing an outdoor warning siren mean? First and foremost it means seek shelter immediately.
According to the Joplin Emergency Management Office, outdoor warning sirens will be activated when the National Weather Service reports a storm system approaching Joplin which produces sustained winds of 75 mph or greater or issues a tornado warning for Jasper County, Newton County and/or Cherokee County, KS with a storm path including the city of Joplin. The sirens also will be activated after having received a report from a trained spotter of a funnel or tornado sighted in or approaching Joplin.
The siren consists of a steady tone for a duration of three to five minutes. The sirens will NOT sound an “all clear” signal.
A Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, 2007. An alert will be sounded over the NOAA Weather Warning System, by Missouri broadcasters supporting the Emergency Alert System and through activation of the outdoor warning sirens. The drill will take 15 minutes to perform. Citizens are asked to participate in the drill by seeking shelter. In case of severe weather conditions on the 13th, the drill will be re-scheduled for Thursday, March 15.
Beginning March 5, 2007, siren testing will be done every Monday morning (weather permitting) at 10 a.m. This testing will be for one minute and will NOT be conducted when threatening weather is in the area or when temperatures are below 50 degrees.
“The sirens provide a warning for anyone who is out of doors to go indoors, if possible, and take shelter,” Keith Stammer, emergency management director, said. “People indoors cannot always expect to hear the outdoor warning sirens.”
Stammer encourages residents to utilize a NOAA Weather Radio that provides a warning signal when the area is under a watch or a warning. “The advantage of having a weather radio," he said "is that you hear the alerts directly from the National Weather Service, and are kept current of the warning status.” Weather radios, that are programmable to local areas, are available at local retailers and are priced at approximately $30.
Here's some important safety information:
- TORNADO WATCH means watch the sky! TORNADO WARNING means seek shelter immediately.
- SEEK SHELTER: Immediately go to an interior room with NO windows on the lowest possible floor. If you are at school or work DO NOT GO to a cafeteria, gymnasium or large interior open space because the roof might collapse.
- LEAVE MOBILE HOMES IMMEDIATELY: Seek shelter in a nearby building or in a ditch.
- IF DRIVING: Take shelter in a nearby building, in a ditch or low-lying area away from your car. If you are outside, remember to cover your head with your arms, coat or blanket to protect yourself from flying debris. Also watch for flash flooding. Never try to out drive a tornado.
- REMEMBER THAT OVERPASSES ARE NOT SAFE: An overpass’s under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect. This may cause the winds to be stronger and more focused underneath. This can also cause the overpass to be a collector of debris.
- HEED THE DANGER OF FLASH FLOODING OR WATER ON THE ROAD: During a thunderstorm, low-lying areas are prone to flash flooding. Never drive into water on the road. If your car stalls in a high water area, get out of your car immediately and seek higher ground. It takes less than two feet of water to make your car float. Once floating downstream, your car can overturn trapping you inside.