MUSCATINE, Iowa – The annual statewide tornado drill will be conducted on Wednesday (March 28) and for Muscatine County that means that the weather sirens will be tested at 10 a.m. Normally the sirens are tested at 11 a.m. on the first Monday of each month (April-October) unless a severe weather watch or warning is in effect on a scheduled test day.
The outdoor warning sirens are activated in order to communicate to the public a public safety issue. Sirens are sounded for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms as well as other non-weather related events such as a large hazardous material release or a terrorist threat.
Activation of the outdoor warning sirens occur when the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning or a tornado or funnel cloud has been observed by a trained weather spotter. Activation also occurs for a severe thunderstorm warning when winds are greater than 70 mph and/or golf ball size hail or larger is reported by trained weather spotters.
When the siren sounds, seek shelter in a safe place.
There is no “all clear” tone sounded. Having a battery operated weather radio on hand is the best way to remain informed of current weather conditions and when the warnings expire. Viewing television stations or using the internet to track conditions can also be done while there is power available.
A list of links to area weather stations is available on the City of Muscatine Severe Weather Page.
WEATHER WATCHES & WARNINGS
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides definitions for weather advisories, watches, and warnings covering a whole range of weather events. There are 10 winter/cold weather events defined by the NWS, nine for fog/wind/severe weather, and nine for flooding. There are also definitions for fire weather, marine, excessive heat, and tropical.
For the City of Muscatine and Muscatine County, advisories, watches, and warnings are issued from the NWS office in Davenport who use Doppler radar along with trained weather spotters in the field to determine what kind of statement to issue and when to issue that statement.
In general, an advisory is issued for less significant weather events such as strong winds, dense fog, frost, or winter weather, events that are more inconvenience than hazardous. A watch tells the public to be prepared as conditions exist for the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. A warning tells the public to take action as severe weather (thunderstorms and/or tornadoes) have been observed by trained spotters or indicated by radar.
Watch areas usually cover large areas while warnings are much smaller and indicate the area that will be impacted by the severe weather (thunderstorms or tornadoes). The NWS reminds the public that warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.
The NWS definitions for advisories, watches, and warnings could be found at this link Warnings Defined. Severe thunderstorm safety information can be found on this NWS page.