Installation and testing of new siren software underway - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Installation and testing of new siren software underway

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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Madison County citizens might hear weather warning sirens this Wednesday and Thursday.  Emergency Management officials said there is no need to panic; they are testing new siren software that will help for specific storm warnings.

Officials said this is the first upgrade the sirens have had in ten years and that this system is a lot more flexible and gives them a chance to be more specific when severe weather is headed your way.

The Siren Telemetry Actuation and Report also known as S.T.A.R. will be installed at the EMA center this week. The technology will enable the EMA to activate sirens to neighborhood and specific storm tracks instead of triggering all 120 sirens across Madison County's 800 plus square miles. This upgrade includes all county-wide sirens in Huntsville, Madison and Redstone Arsenal.

"We will be writing new policies to sound the sirens based on the polygon warning system to sound the siren specific to where the tornado warning is and to specific communities," said EMA Emergency Operations Officer, Paige Colburn said they get complaints from people who say they hear the sirens too much and others who say they don't hear them enough. This new technology will help her crew zero in on specific areas rather than a having different areas hear the sirens unnecessarily.  

"We'll have a lot more options and a lot more flexibility," she said. "We'll be able to do county-wide like we currently do, we'll be able to do storm-specific and we'll be able to do community-specific or any of the above."

Colburn said this new system will be really beneficial for pop-up storms and those a little more intense.

"If we have a really long line of storms that has a potential to generate a lot of dangerous weather, we could sound county-wide still," she said.   

So don't panic when the siren sounds, it's the sound of progress. 

"Don't freak out because we know that we normally test them the first Wednesday of every month at noon and we hope to continue to do that, but this week is special testing unique to this new software," Colburn said. 

If the weather is bad on Wednesday and Thursday testing the sirens will be postponed so they don't scare anyone unnecessarily.

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