Severe Weather Siren Policy - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Severe Weather Siren Policy

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We used to call them tornado sirens. But now, in Scott and Rock Island Counties that term is wrong. Emergency dispatchers will sound the sirens for three reasons:

"They'll sound the sirens every 15 minutes to let everybody know that the conditions are right for a tornado, high winds or golf ball sized hail," said Jerry Shirk, Director of Rock Island County Emergency Management.

Most of the information that emergency dispatchers work off of comes from the National Weather Service or trained weather spotters.

You may hear the sirens 20 or 30 minutes before severe weather rolls in. It's not a false alarm -- it's strategy.

"You want the sirens to sound as soon as possible to enable people to seek shelter," Shirk said.

The truth is, severe weather sirens are not meant for people already inside --

"The sirens are meant for people outside to get indoors. If you happen to hear the sirens inside your home, so much the better."

And, regardless of the reason the sirens are sounding, your reaction should always be the same.

"The first thing people will do is go outside and look," said Shirk. "that's the last thing they should do."

Don't take pictures, take shelter.