ST. LOUIS – The outdoor warning sirens sounded Monday morning at 11 a.m. as part of their monthly test.
These outdoor warning sirens have always sounded when tornadoes threaten the region but now there’s another threat to where they’ll be activated as well as a common misunderstanding by the community.
We hear this sound the first Monday of the month at 11 a.m. weather permitting. St. Louis County and City emergency management test the sirens but they’re also tested silently more often.
“We also do it daily but it’s silent. So you can’t hear it but they are tested. We think that’s important for our community to know,” said Ann Vastmans, emergency management specialist with St. Louis County Emergency Management.
They’re not only activated for tornado warnings, but a new addition within the last year.
“Our outdoor warning siren is sounded when we have a tornado or when the weather service has issued a warning for what they have labeled as a ‘destructive storm,’” Vastmans said.
This decision was made as a group along with information presented by the National Weather Service.
“It painted a very clear picture that this was the right decision for us to make. And everybody really was in agreement,” said Sarah Russell, commissioner of St. Louis City Emergency Management.
As soon as the warning from the National Weather Service is received, the outdoor warning sirens are sounded. Either all 204 sirens for the county and/or all 60 sirens for the city, depending on which jurisdiction the warning is for.
A common misconception of these sirens is that you should be able to hear them indoors.
“This is an outdoor warning siren system. It’s not intended to be heard indoors,” Russell said.
It’s important to remember how loud it can get in the middle of a severe storm.
“A lot of people, when they talk about having been through a tornado, is that it’s so loud it sounds like a freight train. Well, if you have to think about on a siren test day, ‘Would I hear this through a freight train,’ you really don’t know,” Russell said.
That’s why it’s imperative to have multiple ways to get weather warning information for when you’re inside.
“Following us on social media, having a weather radio,” Vastmans said.
“We have ‘Notify STL’ from the city. Anyone that wants to subscribe can find a number of ways to get notifications,” Russell said.