The Douglas County Emergency Management Agency began testing its outdoor sirens on Saturday morning.
Tests were conducted between 10 and 11 a.m. as CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) volunteers were out to make sure each siren works properly.
Many at Omaha's Westroads Mall, including sisters Candace and Elisabeth Jurchan, were surprised to hear the sirens. "I was very confused, really, wondering, I was looking at the weather thinking, it's nice out, what's going on, and then I thought it's probably just some kind of a test,” said Candace.
“The wires are in contact with trees." CERT’s Mark Chastain knows how valuable the warning of a working siren can be. "We have severe weather coming up to us and if they're not in working order the public that's outdoors won't get adequate notice of tornadoes or any kind of severe weather."
While these sirens are so loud they're hard to miss, volunteers want to remind everyone they're meant for outdoor warnings. If you're inside, you need to keep a weather radio nearby.
For the Jurchans, hearing that siren reminded them to prepare for the spring/summer storm season. "It's a good idea to get that back in people's minds and say okay, yeah, we're getting out of winter now and these are concerns,” said Elisabeth. “So yeah, it's a little bit of a comfort."
The first routine monthly test for 2014 will be at 11 a.m. March 5th. Routine monthly tests consist of a single sounding. Routine monthly testing is on a weather-permitting basis and will not be performed if threatening weather exists.
There will also be a special test at approximately 10 a.m. on March 26th as part of National Weather Service Severe Weather Awareness Week. This will consist of a single sounding.