HOLT, Fla., April 23, 2020—After experiencing the third series of severe storms in less than two weeks, residents may be wondering why the sound of tornado sirens is missing.
That’s because there are no tornado sirens in northwest Florida like there are in Alabama and Georgia.
The exception to this in Okaloosa County are siren and “giant voice” warning systems on Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base.
Instead, county residents must rely on emergency alert systems through smartphones, TV and standard and weather radios.
Tornado sirens have limited capability compared to today’s smartphone technology.
Sirens typically only provide one warning and can’t give any information such as location, direction of travel or course of action needed.
More is better
Emergency management officials continuously remind people to have multiple ways to receive warnings during severe weather.
“During a severe weather event, your smartphone or weather radio is often your first source of critical information and updates,” according to information on Santa Rosa County’s Emergency Management Facebook. “Weather apps are an excellent delivery system of severe weather in your area, as well as where your home, business or children’s school may be.”
Smartphone emergency alert systems notify users through electronic alerts; however, in most cases, these alerts are provided through applications that need to be downloaded to the phone.
There are a number of free reliable weather apps available at smartphone app stores:
- Red Cross Tornado – uses a tornado siren when a tornado warning has been issued
- RedZone Weather – provided by Spinks Megginson, an Alabama meteorologist who covers the National Weather Service Mobile forecast area
- National Weather Service – the app is available at weather.gov/wrn/mobile-phone
- Weather Underground – provides local weather and alerts
- The Weather Channel – provides local weather and alerts
In addition to one or more smartphone weather apps, emergency officials recommend everyone have a NOAA Weather Radio in their home.
“This should be your first line of defense before relying on alerts through your smartphone,” according to Santa Rosa’s EM Facebook post.
Weather radios can be put in an alert mode where they remain silent until the National Weather Services issues a weather warning, a handy feature for nighttime hours.
When an alert is issued, the alert tone brings the volume up and remains up until the radio is either silenced or turned off.