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Weather sirens set to protect

July 19, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

On July 3 and the early morning of July 4, blaring emergency sirens woke Canfield residents. They went off twice - alerting the area to a potential tornado. The following morning, there were many who had questions about the sirens.

Both the Tuesday evening and the 1:30 a.m. July 4 sirens were set off because of rotation picked up by the National Weather Service in Cleveland. That is where it all begins, according to Mahoning County EMA Director Clark Jones.

"The sirens are engaged via the National Weather Service in Cleveland who issued the tornado warnings," Jones said.

The service issues the warning to the 9-1-1 dispatch center in Youngstown. From there, Jones said all 47 sirens in the county are set off.

"We don't have the ability to localize the sirens," Jones said.

He said that could be a good thing considering tornados have the ability to jump, skip and change direction. A threat to one part of the county could easily affect the rest of the county.

Of the county's 47 sirens, five are located within Canfield township and city. They are located at the city maintenance building off Ohio 46, at the fairgrounds, at the fire station on Messerly Road, on Summit Drive near U.S. 224 and at the joint vocation school on Palmyra Road.

"We try to check them once a month," said Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Don Hutchison. "All five are set off every Saturday at noon."

When a weather alert does go off, other than the Saturday noon test, it is a signal to immediately turn to a local television or radio channel, according to Hutchison.

"The alarm means to turn on the TV or radio for important information," he said.

The news channels will carry the warning and often stay with the situation until the warning expires. In the case of a tornado, Jones said it is best to get to a secure place, such as a basement, to monitor the news reports.

Once the warning is issued, the sirens will sound for three minutes every 10 minutes until the warning expires.

Hutchison also said the National Weather Service website at allows a person to sign up for SMS notification and offers Smart Phone and tablet applications to alert people to potential weather dangers.

"That's how I find out about the warnings," Hutchison said.

He said in the July 3 and 4 warnings, he actually found out a minute or two before the sirens went off.



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