When outdoor warning sirens sound in Spearfish, take cover
Sirens activated to aid in alerting residents of severe weather of all kinds
SPEARFISH, SD (June 9, 2020) – Tis the season for severe weather in Western South Dakota, and residents in and around Spearfish are reminded that the outdoor warning sirens are activated for severe weather of all kinds that may pose an immediate threat to life. When they hear the sirens, which emit one long tone that does not modulate up and down in pitch, people should take cover in the safest place available in their immediate vicinity as quickly as possible.
“Weather can move and change quickly in the Black Hills,” Spearfish Public Safety Director Pat Rotert said, encouraging people to keep apprised of conditions through weather apps and alerts from the television or radio so they are aware of any current weather watches or warnings. “We look at the outdoor warning sirens as severe weather emergency sirens, not only tornado sirens.”
In the Thursday, June 4, 2020, weather event, there were hailstones large enough to cause injury and death and winds in excess of 70 mph. Even though there was no reported tornado, it was important for community members who were outdoors to know that they needed to take cover indoors.
The sirens, per City policy, are activated when National Weather Service (NWS) warnings are issued that are related to severe storms described as having wind speeds in excess of 70 mph or having severely-damaging hail, as well as warnings related to tornadoes, that include the City of Spearfish in the locations within the NWS warning. Rotert explained that the outdoor warning sirens are activated with as much advance notice as possible – which sometimes is not very long.
No matter the reason for the siren sounding, it is meant to provide an extra alert system for people outside to know that something is coming from which they need to take cover. People should go indoors, if possible, to a basement or interior room with no windows, and if they are outdoors and have no cover, they should try to get to a low area or a sheltered area.
Residents should also keep in mind that the weather they are seeing in their part of town may be quite different from what people are seeing in other parts of the community: Conditions at Exit 8 may be very different from Exit 17, for example. However, severe weather that fits the description in the City’s policy will prompt the activation of the sirens. When activated, all sirens sound; the City does not activate only certain locations of sirens in severe weather events. Depending on the severity and length of the weather event causing the activation of the siren, the system may be activated additional times.
The city currently has emergency sirens located strategically around the community to reach as many within hearing distance as possible. Not everyone who is indoors will hear the sirens when they sound. There is a long-term plan to identify future locations for sirens in the new growth areas in Spearfish.
Check out these additional resources from the National Weather Service:
National Weather Service terminology related to severe weather
Severe thunderstorm safety
Strong wind safety