It's a sound many of us are all too familiar with during the spring and summer months: Storm sirens, also known as outdoor warning sirens.
Outdoor warning sirens aren't just for tornadoes. All counties across the KWWL viewing area activate outdoor warning sirens when the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning. However, certain counties will will sound their sirens in different circumstances.
Some counties sound their sirens only for tornadoes. Other counties activate sirens for tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms with 70 mph or greater winds. Some counties activate sirens for tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms with 70 mph or greater winds and golf ball size hail and larger (severe thunderstorms have 58 mph winds and quarter size hail). CLICK HERE to find your county map.
This may be confusing to some people. That's why the Iowa Emergency Management Association is recommending that Iowa's 99 counties adopt a similar policy so there is no confusion as to why sirens are going off. Some communities may also sound the sirens for funnel clouds spotted by storm spotters. Anytime there is threatening weather, KWWL will be on air with the latest information.
It's important to remember that outdoor warning sirens are only meant for people who are outside during bad weather situations. They were not made for you to hear in the comfort of your home. This is why it is important to have multiple ways to get severe weather information.
The bottom line is: If you are outside and hear the sirens, head inside right away to find out what is going on.