There are four tornado sirens intended to alert the citizens of Harrisburg of an impending weather event.
Living or working near one can be nerve-wracking on the first Tuesday of each month. That is the day that the system is tested at 10 a.m.
When the siren behind Biggs Electric on South Commercial Street was first installed Don Biggs couldn't believe how loud it was. "The sound is really loud. I think it makes three turns and then it is done. We live on Dorris Heights Road and you can hear the siren when it goes off," he said.
His son, John, said, "I live by the hospital and I can barely hear the siren in my neighborhood."
Harrisburg Fire Chief Bill Summers said, "It's an outside warning system, not designed to wake you up like a weather radio would. If you hear that siren, you better find yourself a hole."
The sirens rotate and are very directional according to the chief. "When they come around they hurt your ears. All are on battery back up in case the power goes off," he said. "But they are not intended to replace your weather radio."
The four sirens located in the city are at:
- Walnut and Lewis Streets
- South end of Elm Street off Doris Heights Road.
- South Commercial west of the intersection with state Route 34
- Hazel Street south of McHaney Road.
The National Weather Service is monitored by local officials and they put their trust in it. "The NWS is pretty sharp," said Firefighter Rick Mallady, city emergency management coordinator.
The sirens can be set off at Saline County Central Dispatch, at the firehouse in Harrisburg or from the Chief's Mobile radio. The system follows state guidelines and avoids "crying wolf" by relying on visual sightings or radar confirmation from NWS.
"When we are watching the weather we are in constant contact with NWS," said Summers.
There are four sirens in Eldorado according to Fire Chief Mike McKinnies, two in Carrier Mills and one in Galatia.
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