Dakota County Changes Warning Siren Policy

If gathering summer clouds leave you in the dark about just how severe the weather might be, Dakota County emergency officials are making a change in the way outdoor warning sirens will be sounded. A survey of criteria that triggers the outdoor sirens was assessed and it was determined that area residents experience siren fatigue. This may then result in those residents disregarding the signal when the weather is at is worst. Currently, the emergency sirens are sounded for all tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings. The new policy will rely on data that reflects a sustained wind speed criteria to decide when to activate sirens during a severe thunderstorm warning. Effective immediately, outdoor sirens will sound when wind speeds are expected to meet or exceed 70 miles per hour. If the new policy had been in effect over the past five years, use of outdoor warning sirens across Dakota County would have been reduced by 75 percent. The change in policy was recommended by the National Weather Service based on more accurate weather forecasting and technology, as well as wind damage information. Local police and fire personnel can still have the outdoor warning sirens activated if they feel conditions are dangerous for residents, as in the case of a funnel cloud being spotted. While Dakota County residents may hear fewer outdoor warning sirens in coming years, Sheriff Tim Leslie urges everyone to stay vigilant. He says anyone who hears a siren should immediately go inside and get more information from their television, Internet, smartphone or radio and take appropriate action.

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