The Douglas County Emergency Management Office tests the outdoor warning siren system on a regular basis. The test occurs at noon on the first Monday during the months of August-February and on the first and third Monday during the months of March-July. Tests are cancelled for potential or occurring severe weather and in the event of extreme cold or ice on the sirens.
In March, siren activation is done as part of a statewide tornado drill in conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness Week. These drills are typically conducted on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon.
Sounding of sirens:
The outdoor warning sirens for any or all of the cities in Douglas County are activated when the National Weather Service issues a “tornado warning” or when a local determination is made that a tornado threat to the area exists. This determination is made by Douglas County Emergency Management staff and will be based upon evaluation of all available information. This may include, but is not limited to, National Weather Service watch and/or warning text, weather radar and reports from trained weather spotters or law enforcement officers.
Anytime you hear the sirens sound, it means to take immediate safety precautions. Listen to a NOAA weather radio or local media for updates. In Lawrence, local stations are KLWN 1320AM and KANU 91.5FM. Note: There is NO all-clear siren.
Severe thunderstorm watch:
A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service whenever weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, respectively, in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm is detected by radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing at least 1 inch hail or 58 mph winds. In case of a severe thunderstorm watch or warning:
- Be alert to the possibility of high winds and/or hail. Also, be aware that severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advanced warning. Should a storm develop, move away from windows exposed to the impact of high winds into a protected area of a hallway or interior room until the danger is past.
- If circumstances warrant, general information can be obtained from the following sources:
- While emergency conditions exist, 864-SNOW is used for emergency information year-round.
- KU Info, 864-3506
- University radio stations KJHK 90.7 and KANU 91.5 will broadcast information specific to campus; local radio and TV stations do provide on-going community emergency information.
- Under limited circumstances the university may use JayTalk and other electronic means to provide post-emergency information.
Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been detected on radar or is sighted by a weather spotter. In case of a tornado warning:
- In university buildings equipped with voice emergency warning systems, a weather emergency take cover message will be activated when the Lawrence sirens have been activated.
- Move immediately to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet or interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls between you and the outside. If available, get under a sturdy table or piece of furniture and always protect your head and neck with you arms. Remain there until the all clear is given by local radio stations (KANU/KLWN), police or other official sources of information. In university buildings equipped with voice emergency warning systems, an all-clear message will be activated when an official all-clear has been issued for Lawrence .
- If you are outside when a tornado warning is issued and/or the sirens are sounding, take cover in a pre-designated shelter or the lowest level of a building. If those are not accessible, lie in a ditch or depression away from trees and power lines and cover your head with your hands.
- If you are driving a vehicle, abandon the vehicle. Move into a pre-designated shelter or lowest level of a building. If a suitable structure is not available, lie down in a ditch or depression but be aware of flash flooding.
- If you have a disability and need help getting to a lower level for safety in a KU building, proceed to an area of rescue and activate the system. If you are unable to make it to an area of rescue, call 911 for assistance.
- Our office recommends that all persons have a NOAA All-Hazard Weather Radio. By having a weather radio, you will get all watch and warning information directly from the National Weather Service. It’s like having a personal siren in your home.