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Aug 03

How we handle weather emergencies - sirens

Posted on August 3, 2021 at 9:09 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

This Saturday, you will hear the monthly emergency siren test across Calhoun County. You might also remember that severe weather placed the county under a tornado warning on Saturday, June 26.

We received many questions, and 911 received calls, about why our neighbors in Battle Creek did not hear the emergency sirens activate during that June 26 warning.

Emergency siren on a pole, with blue sky background

Our Calhoun County Consolidated Dispatch Authority activates the sirens when the weather turns bad; they are in continuous contact with the National Weather Service. Since 2013, Dispatch has used an activation plan by sector – the county is divided into northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast sectors.

Dispatch activates sirens by sector, based on the location of an identified tornado, along with the travel and speed – provided by the NWS.

This means that, when all of Calhoun County is under a tornado warning, NOT all of the county’s sirens will sound. Dispatch activates the sirens in the sector where the severe weather is happening. We can do this because of how much technology and equipment have improved.

For example – if officials located a tornado in the City of Albion, tracking east, Dispatch would activate the sirens only in the NE and SE sectors. To activate the others would cause unnecessary panic in places like Battle Creek and Bedford Township, 25 miles in the opposite direction.

When the sirens sound, the audience is anyone who would hear them – especially if you are outside or in a vehicle. You might hear them from inside your hours, but not necessarily.

Please note, when the NWS issues a tornado warning, they urge those under the warning to take cover. This means moving to a basement, or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outside, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest, most sturdy shelter you can. You’ll want to protect yourself from possible flying debris in high winds.

We support that message during a tornado warning, even if you do not hear the sirens in the City of Battle Creek. The weather can change quickly, and we want neighbors to be prepared, and stay safe during stormy weather.

Please do not call 911 if you do not hear a local siren during a storm and/or warning. Calling could overwhelm the system, and impact those experiencing an emergency. There are many notification devices, apps, and news outlets to help you follow the weather.

Again, we test the sirens every monthly – you should hear them sound at 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. This helps us make sure the sirens are all working properly, and gives us a chance to fix any problems. There was one siren that malfunctioned during the June 5 test, and it worked properly again before the recent severe weather.

Some of this information, and more, is available on the CCCDA website. For the siren information, under Information, visit Siren Map. 

Calhoun County emergency siren location list

Calhoun County emergency siren sector map