Emergency siren tests for the season begin this weekend

The spring severe weather season is just around the corner. To prepare, the county’s and city’s regular outdoor warning siren system tests resume this month. Here are their schedules:

Washtenaw County-operated sirens will be tested at noon on the first Saturday of every month from March through October. This means that this Saturday, March 3, at noon is the first Washtenaw County siren test of the year.

The City of Ann Arbor’s sirens are tested every second Tuesday of the month at 1:00 pm. Testing of sirens is performed from March through November. This means that this Tuesday, March 7, at 1 pm is the first City siren test of the year.

If there’s a severe weather threat on the afternoon of a test, the test will be delayed until the following month.

Aside from scheduled tests, Ann Arbor’s sirens sound in case of:

  • A tornado warning anywhere in Washtenaw County.
  • A severe thunderstorm warning with confirmed winds of 75 miles per hour or greater anywhere in Washtenaw County.
  • A hazardous material spill that requires immediate protective action.
  • Any other local emergency that requires immediate action or for other national threats such as an imminent threat alert from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – National Terrorism Advisory System.

When you hear these sirens, you should go inside, take cover, and tune in to one of the county’s emergency broadcasters for further information:

  • WEMU 89.1 FM
  • WWWW 102.9 FM
  • WQKL 107.1 FM (City of Ann Arbor only)
  • WTKA 1050 AM (City of Ann Arbor only)
  • WLBY 1290 AM (City of Ann Arbor only)

For the City of Ann Arbor, emergency alerts will also be broadcast on Community Television Network (channels 16, 17, 18 and 19), emailed to “emergency alerts” subscribers, and shared via the city’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Risk of severe thunderstorms this afternoon/early evening

The National Weather Service has determined there is an “enhanced” risk of severe weather in southeastern Michigan this afternoon, primarily from noon to 8pm. (This document outlines what “enhanced risk” means.)

Today, this means that we can expect thunderstorms across the area, some of which will likely be severe. Risks for today’s storms include damaging wind gusts (with fairly high probability) and hail up to 1 inch in diameter. Locally heavy rainfall is possible.

There is a small risk of tornados occurring with any severe storms that develop this afternoon.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Now would be a good time to clear blockages from storm drains in your neighborhood, if you’re home, to prevent your streets from flooding.
  • Don’t walk or drive through flooded areas. It takes just 12 inches of fast-moving floodwater to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
  • Stay safe from lightning.

Tune into our local emergency broadcasters for timely updates and alerts this afternoon. Finally, it might be useful to review what a severe weather watch vs. a warning means:

Tornado Watch: The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Tornado Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce three or more tornadoes or any tornado which could produce EF2 or greater damage.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Severe Thunderstorm Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce six and more hail events of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, or damaging winds of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater.

Tornado Warning: … are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of a tornado.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: … are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of hail of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, and/or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater.

Emergency siren tests begin this weekend

The spring severe weather season is just around the corner. To prepare, the county’s and city’s regular outdoor warning siren system tests resume this month. Here are their schedules:

Washtenaw County-operated sirens will be tested at noon on the first Saturday of every month from March through October. This means that this Saturday, March 4, at noon is the first Washtenaw County siren test of the year.

The City of Ann Arbor’s sirens are tested every second Tuesday of the month at 1:00 pm. Testing of sirens is performed from March through November. This means that this Tuesday, March 7, at 1 pm is the first City siren test of the year.

If there’s a severe weather threat on the afternoon of a test, the test will be delayed until the following month.

Outside of scheduled tests, these sirens sound in case of:

  • A tornado warning anywhere in Washtenaw County.
  • A severe thunderstorm warning with confirmed winds of 75 miles per hour or greater anywhere in Washtenaw County.
  • A hazardous material spill that requires immediate protective action.
  • Any other local emergency that requires immediate action or for other national threats such as an imminent threat alert from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – National Terrorism Advisory System.

When you hear these sirens, you should go inside, take cover, and tune in to one of the county’s emergency broadcasters for further information:

  • WEMU 89.1 FM
  • WWWW 102.9 FM
  • WQKL 107.1 FM (City of Ann Arbor only)
  • WTKA 1050 AM (City of Ann Arbor only)
  • WLBY 1290 AM (City of Ann Arbor only)

For the City of Ann Arbor, emergency alerts will also be broadcast on Community Television Network (channels 16, 17, 18 and 19), emailed to “emergency alerts” subscribers, and shared via the city’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

For more information:

Winter Storm this weekend

Saturday (Dec. 10) we will see scattered snow showers across the area, leading to small accumulations and, at times, poor visibility. Overnight we’ll see widespread, light snow, with only a small accumulation by Sunday morning.

On Sunday (Dec. 11) snowfall will increase throughout the day, with moderately heavy snowfall in the late afternoon and evening. By the time the storm ends Sunday night, the National Weather Service is predicting a total of 5-9 inches of accumulation.

(Anecdotally, in Ann Arbor proper I’d expect somewhere between 4-8 inches — for whatever reason our totals usually seem to be a bit below those predicted for the region.)

Roads will be slick on Sunday. Drive carefully.

Thunderstorms likely tonight; slight risk of severe weather

Thunderstorms are likely this evening across southeastern Michigan. There’s a chance some of these storms could become severe, mainly from 10pm-3am.

Any severe storms tonight will be capable of producing damaging wind gusts and large hail. There’s a possibility of tornadoes forming, but that seems relatively unlikely at the moment.

Some storms tonight will come with locally very heavy rainfall, which may produce localized flooding (particularly in areas of town prone to this problem, like Depot Street). Remember, don’t walk through or drive into flooded areas:

A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

In anticipation of this storm, try to get out around your neighborhood and clear out any storm drain blockages you notice. That’ll help your area avoid flooding.

Finally, storms tonight are likely to bring plenty of lightning. Stay safe.

Tune into our local emergency broadcasters for timely updates and alerts tonight, and follow me over at @ArborWX. It might be useful to review what a severe weather watch vs. a warning means:

Tornado Watch: The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Tornado Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce three or more tornadoes or any tornado which could produce EF2 or greater damage.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Severe Thunderstorm Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce six and more hail events of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, or damaging winds of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater.

Tornado Warning: … are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of a tornado.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: … are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of hail of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, and/or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater.

SPC Thunderstorm Outlook 2016-06-22 8pm-Midnight EDT