St. Charles County to activate sirens during “destructive” thunderstorms


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NS. CHARLES COUNTY, Mon .– Starting September 20, St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management (REM) is changing the way it alerts residents of severe storms.

REM is working with the National Weather Service (NWS) to make the changes. Officials say the change will also reduce confusion while testing outdoor warning sirens.

Here are the changes:

  • The NWS sends Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) notifications to smartphones when a thunderstorm in an area is classified as “destructive”. A storm in this category has hail that is at least 2.75 inches (baseball size) in diameter and / or winds greater than 50 mph. The alert notification is similar to that issued by the NWS during a tornado alert.
  • When the NWS issues a warning for a “destructive” storm, REM activates the external warning sirens throughout the county. REM also activates the sirens when the NWS issues a tornado warning.
  • REM is postponing St. Charles County’s monthly outdoor warning siren test on the first Monday of the month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This will coincide with the St. Louis County’s Outdoor Warning Sirens trial period to reduce confusion for those who live and work along the St. Charles and St. Louis Counties border.

According to the NWS, 13 of the 22 most expensive weather disasters in 2020 were severe thunderstorms. St. Charles County officials say there were only seven thunderstorms classified as “destructive” in the county between 2012 and 2021, saying this type of storm is rare.

“So it is necessary to issue this warning and activate the sirens to protect our community,” says Captain Chris Hunt, director of REM.

Officials also tell the “Derecho” that his Iowa, Illinois, had gusts of wind in excess of 120 mph in 2020. These winds were stronger than an EF-0 tornado with wind speeds of 65-85 mph.

For more information on storm safety and tips on how to prepare for emergencies, visit sccmo.org/REM.

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