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Letter: More sirens risk crying wolf during severe weather

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Last Saturday, Aug. 31, the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Stevens County. As such, the Civil Defense Sirens were blown in accordance with the following statement from the Stevens County Sheriff's Office, issued on Aug. 8:

"Starting on August 7, when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning with winds in excess of 70 mph, you can expect to hear the Civil Defense Sirens in the City of Alberta, Chokio, Donnelly, Hancock and Morris. As usual, even without a warning, we will sound the sirens if the weather warrants it."

(I'm not sure whether or not this change was announced to the general public beyond the Facebook page for the Sheriff's Office, but oh well.)

I respect the need to go indoors when it's raining cats and dogs outside, and I don't challenge having the sirens go off when a Tornado Warning is in effect. However, there's a reason why Tornado Watches are separate from Severe Thunderstorm Warnings — only when conditions are favorable to the imminent development of a tornado are they issued. Yes, obviously things could change at any moment, and tornadoes could spontaneously generate. However, don't we run the risk of crying wolf by blowing these things every time a storm develops? If the citizenry, who until now is only used to hearing them when a confirmed tornado is on the ground, starts getting lackadaisical after too many false alarms, isn't that a greater threat to public safety?

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