Tornado alarms to sound tomorrow: Will you hear the tests?

See an important update to this story!

If you’re in Indiana tomorrow and don’t hear a tornado warning, be concerned

Photo of weather radio
A programmable NOAA weather radio, one of the devices that should activate for two tests of Indiana’s severe weather communications systems tomorrow (March 19, 2015)

If you’re in Indiana, your smartphone might make an annoying noise twice tomorrow. Your NOAA weather radio should beep at you. You might hear outdoor warning sirens. That’s because the National Weather Service (NWS) and other agencies will conduct a statewide test of severe weather communications systems as part of Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

The NWS will issue test tornado warnings for the entire state of Indiana twice tomorrow, once at around 10:15 a.m. EDT and again at about 7:35 p.m. EDT. The warnings will activate weather radios, Wireless Emergency Alert-equipped smartphones, etc. the same way a real tornado warning does. The only difference will be the wording of the warning, which will make clear that it’s just a test.

tornado-sirenUnlike your weather radio and smartphone, NWS warnings do not automatically trigger outdoor warning sirens. Local emergency agencies control the sirens manually. Many communities will sound their sirens during the tests but some might not participate in the tests. For example, during a previous year’s test, Allen County, Indiana officials decided not to activate the county’s outdoor warning sirens because skies were cloudy that day.

Whether officials activate outdoor warning sirens, however, is a bit of a moot point, because you’ll probably be indoors when the tests occur and very, very few people live where they can hear outdoor warning sirens indoors.

So, if by 8 p.m. tomorrow, you realize you never knew when the warning tests happened, that’s a good sign that you need to improve your ability to receive warnings sometime between now and the arrival of severe weather season (which is just around the corner)!

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