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Wright County News

Posted on: September 2, 2020

Sirens to Sound at 1 P.M. Today, But Why?

At 1 p.m. today, Wright County will observe a ritual it has done for more than 50 years – sounding sirens at 1 p.m. to make sure they are operational during an emergency.

Commonly known as “tornado sirens” because that is what they are most associated with, sirens can be used to warn local residents about floods, hazardous material spills and other disasters – natural and man-made.

In the 1960s, the federal government paid to build the outdoor siren system, which was designed to warn people who were outside of pending danger. To maintain funding of the emergency alert system from the feds, state and county governments were required to test the sirens at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.

The time of 1 p.m. was selected because it was deemed the time of day that the highest number of people would be outdoors and, back in the 1960s when it was implemented, many small towns had a ritual of sounding a siren at noon to signal lunchtime.

Each county in Minnesota is responsible for sounding its sirens and they are all connected to one command center that can activate the entire system or sound specific sirens when impending danger is present in a community.

This afternoon at 1 p.m., sirens throughout Wright County will sound for two minutes. The purpose won’t be to warn anyone of dangerous weather coming, but rather to make sure they are operational when sounding the sirens could be a life-or-death situation.

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