First full activation of Lubbock Outdoor Warning System planned for April 8 test

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 9:35 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock will conduct its first full activation test of the Outdoor Warning System at 9:30 a.m. on April 8. The activation of all 45 sirens will be tested monthly to ensure Lubbock’s new tornado alert system is working properly.

“It will be a three-minute duration test,” Director of Emergency Management Joe Moudy told KCBD. “It will be very similar to if we were doing a full activation of the system, which is a three-minute activation, then a moment of silence. We are not doing any repeat activations. We need the public to know that this is a test. We are not expecting them to take action. However, it also allows them to hear what those sound like so that if we do have to activate them in severe weather, they know to take cover.”

Friday’s test will allow staff, who will be across the city, to make sure the sound coverage is adequate.

“The sirens are estimated at about a mile and a half to two miles worth of sound coverage,” Moudy said. “The system is designed based on the topography, based upon atmospheric conditions with a very conservative number to ensure that we have overlap of the sound.”

The test will also will be done via the siren’s battery, ensuring it is functioning if the power to the siren is lost.

“It’s redundant on power,” Moudy said. “They’re connected to power utilities right now. If those are active and still available, that’s what will sound the siren. They have a battery backup in the event that power fails so that we can still activate the sirens.”

The City of Lubbock will conduct a full activation test each month on the second Friday between 9 and 10 in the morning. The test will not be conducted if the National Weather Service forecasts a 10 percent or greater chance of a thunderstorm. The test will not be rescheduled.

There are two other forms of tests to be done daily and weekly.

“We get a silent test done three times a day: 6 p.m., midnight and 6 a.m.,” Moudy said. “That sends back a report to the system of the electronics checks, the sensor checks on the radios on the control boxes, we get those reports to us three times a day. Then we have the growl test, which is weekly. That’s just to turn the siren, make sure that all the mechanical components have worked. There is a very small or very low audio activation on that but it’s only for two seconds. Unless you’re paying attention, you may not even notice that.”

The Office of Emergency Management uses a computer interface or a manual activation of the system. That can include all 45 sirens or a select number.

The activation protocol, designed in coordination with the National Weather Service, and testing explanations are included on a new City of Lubbock web page. It also includes a map of the sirens. Click here for that information.

“Our plan is to activate all sirens whenever a tornado warning is issued for parts of the city of Lubbock or for the city of Lubbock,” Moudy said. “After that first three-minute duration, we will come back and activate only the sirens in the polygon that National Weather Service draws on the map.”

Moudy encourages citizens to have multiple ways to receive weather alerts. The new system is designed to warn folks outside, not indoors of the impeding danger.

“Not every system is perfect,” Moudy said. “Not every system is guaranteed to work during an event such as a tornado. It’s important to have multiple avenues to get those alerts. Once you get the alert, the most important thing is to have a plan and to act on that plan. You need to know what you’re going to do ahead of time and then take action when you get those alerts.”

He also asks those with storm shelters to register them with the City of Lubbock.

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