New siren policies for some counties and emergency agencies
by Danielle Wagner
WATERLOO (KWWL) Some people across eastern Iowa may hear tornado sirens more often.
Beginning this year, some counties and emergency management agencies implemented new siren policies.
Besides tornadoes, Linn and Dubuque County officials will sound the siren during severe thunderstorms with winds 70 miles per hour or stronger. Dubuque County will also sound the siren for golf-ball sized hail.
Black Hawk County's policy was adopted last September.
Three weeks ago, Lorie Glover took over as coordinator for the Black Hawk County Emergency Management Agency. She's worked in the emergency response business for 23 years with the Red Cross.
Now, she's constantly monitoring the weather. If a tornado is indicated or spotted, she uses a computer to sound the sirens. Glover can sound for all of Black Hawk County or just specific communities.
She said the siren is sounded based on information from three sources.
"One is the National Weather Service. The others are trained spotters and also from regular individuals or safety officers who are out there and then we would verify the information with the weather service," said Glover.
While some counties and emergency management agencies adopted new policies this year adding to when the siren will be sounded, Black Hawk County still only sounds sirens for tornadoes.
"The regulations we follow for setting off the alarms come from the Emergency Management Commission, which is a representation of all communities in Black Hawk County," said Lorie Glover.
Storm Track Seven Meteorologist Eileen Loan said tornado sirens are meant to warn people outside to take shelter.
"If you hear a tornado siren, heed the warning, if only to go inside and find out where that warning is, turn on weather radio, check out the television," said Loan.
She said it's best to be overly cautious. If you hear a siren, she recommends going to your safe place.
Johnson County Emergency Management has the same policy as Black Hawk County, only sounding for a tornado. But the coordinator said that could change next year.
Many counties now offer "code red." You can sign up to receive alerts via your phone during severe weather.
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