Bloomington and Normal and McLean County Emergency Management Agency leaders say bad weather sirens will be going off more often than they used to. Emergency Management Agency Director Curtis Hawk says tornado sirens will now sound for two to three minutes at the start of a tornado warning, instead of the old practice of setting them off only when a trained spotter sights a funnel cloud. The policy had been under review since sirens did not sound November 17th as extremely high winds damaged portions of the twin cities. Hawk says it is possible area residents could come to be too familiar with the sirens and take less notice if they go off more often.
"Yes, that's my fear that they would. But, by the overall confusion we are trying to get common and consistent guidelines set."
Hawk says the number of tornado warnings in the twin cities varies widely, from two to 25 per year. The new policy would activate sirens when winds hit 70 miles an hour, which is enough to trigger a tornado warning from the National Weather Service. Hawk says a public education campaign will be needed. He says he hopes other towns in the county change their policies to coincide with Bloomington Normal but, every community owns their own outdoor siren.
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