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Huntsville-Madison County EMA: Most outdoor warning sirens function properly during January test

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Today at 12 p.m. the Huntsville-Madison County EMA conducted a test of the outdoor warning system.  If you live or work near one of these sirens, hopefully you heard it activate.

We heard sirens at our office downtown.  WHNT News 19 is followed up with the EMA to see if the test went as planned.  Director Jeff Birdwell said yes.  Of the 128 sirens in Madison County, only five to seven did not activate.

“There were either mechanical or some software issues on about, I think it’s five, different sites that we already knew about. We’re in the process of getting them repaired,” said Birdwell.  He said that should happen in the next few weeks.

“The key is we know that those are not working,” Birdwell added. “We also have pretty good overlap on sirens, so it’s not necessarily that people won’t hear the siren in that area, because the overlap form another one will take care of that.”

The EMA tests these sirens on the first Wednesday of every month, unless stormy or cloudy weather is present.  It recently reviewed the system after it failed during severe storms Nov. 29-30, 2016. The software for the system had recently been upgraded, but was missing a line of computer code needed to activate it. The error was discovered later that week.

EMA officials and WHNT News 19 meteorologists urge you to have multiple ways to stay alert during severe weather, including TV broadcasts, web and phone alerts and a NOAA weather radio. By the way, those also recently failed.

WHNT News 19 offers two free apps that send you automated severe weather alerts, Live Alert 19 and WHNT SAF-T-Net.