Outdoor Warning System
Audible outdoor warning tests are conducted at noon on the first Saturday of every month. The tests will be conducted as scheduled unless inclement weather transpires; any weather watches or warnings are in effect for Marion County. The alarm is a single monotone sound which will sound for approximately one minute, at which time there will be an announcement, "This is a test of the Pella outdoor warning system". After the announcement the air horn will sound, letting citizens know that the test is complete.
When the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Marion County the Pella Police Department will sound the Outdoor Warning System. When a real threat is imminent the monotone alarm will sound for approximately three minutes, at which time there will be an announcement, "A tornado has been sighted, please take immediate shelter." After the announcement and the threat of severe weather has passed, the air horn will sound, signaling all clear.
The first tone activated is a continuous, steady siren, which during an actual warning indicates that Marion County, including the Pella area, has been placed under a tornado warning according to the National Weather Service. During the testing process, the public address system is activated with a test message, however in the event of an actual warning, the public address is only activated if a tornado has been sighted and citizens are then instructed of the sighting and to take immediate shelter.
The siren activated in conjunction with a fire is a wail siren verses the several minute duration of the tornado alert siren.
The pulsating air horn tone (all clear) is sounded after notification, from the National Weather Service, indicating that the severe weather is no longer a threat to our community. It can be several minutes until the all clear is declared following an actual warning being issued.
The community is reminded that this is an "outdoor" system and that the intent is to notify citizens outside their houses of severe weather. Those persons indoors that can hear the tones are fortunate and should tune to their local media for updates regarding the weather.
Businesses concerned about alerting their employees while at work should consider purchasing a device that is activated as an indoor warning system. The device is normally located in an office where it can be monitored and thus notification of the workers is immediate. This notification process is also initiated by the police department following a cue from the National Weather Service. Business managers and owners should consider preparing a written procedure to keep staff and patrons safe.
Inquiries regarding the outdoor and indoor warning systems should be forwarded to the Pella Police Department at 641.628.4921. Concerns about sites not working properly should be referred to the department as well. Each site has a battery back up in case of a power failure, audible tests are conducted the first Saturday of each month from March to October and silent testing is done during the winter months; however the integrity of the system is the responsibility of the entire community.