Nashville tornado a grim reminder of importance of severe weather safety awareness

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ST. LOUIS – It’s severe weather preparedness week and Missouri officials are urging residents to be prepared for severe weather threats this spring.

Missouri’s annual statewide tornado drill took place earlier Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Sirens like this one behind me could be heard by many throughout St. Louis County.

But not every siren sounded like it should and we went looking to find out what residents should do when they hear the siren, or if they heard nothing at all when they should have.

“Once a month we set off the outdoor tornado warning sirens just to test them and those are outdoor warning sirens,” said Michelle Ryan, Deputy Director St. Louis County office of emergency management.  “Those are intended to warn folks outside, not indoors.  For those people, we preach weather radios or apps on your smart phones, some way to get notifications when you’re indoors.”

Throughout the city of St. Louis there are 60 sirens like this one in Forest Park that sounded a test alarm.

And in the county, there are 204 of these sirens, but this one in Maryland heights Tuesday never made a sound.

“By policy it’s always been the first Monday of the month at 11 a.m.,” said Mike Clouse, Director St. Louis County office of emergency management.  “Today happened to be a statewide test we participate in annually.”

According to the National Weather Service, Missouri had 66 tornadoes in 2019 with three deaths and 38 injuries.

Making sure every alarm is on point is the job of Mike Clouse.

“We test those sirens silently twice a day,” said Crouse.  “They’re in silent radio communication with controllers and they’re tested for telemetry.  They’ll tell us if the batteries are okay, the solar panels are charging and generally we will touch those physically go out and open those four times a year, open them up and chase out the wasps and make sure they’re in good condition and things like that.”

Tuesday afternoon on tornado safety day, we’re getting a tour of the county’s emergency communications building.  Both St. Louis City and St. Louis Ccounty emergency have webpages and phone numbers that you can report a siren not working properly.

The state is encouraging everyone to use Missouri’s ready in 3 program to create a plan in case of emergency, prepare a kit, and listen for information regarding severe weather.

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