Updated Policy For Outdoor Warning Siren Activation


September 9 , 2014  – Ottumwa, Iowa –  The Ottumwa City Council approved new protocols, effective immediately,  for activation of the Ottumwa’s Outdoor Warning Sirens at their September 8th meeting.  The outdoor sirens are intended to warn people outdoors of confirmed hazardous weather conditions.  When a siren is sounded, people should take shelter immediately and seek more information through the local media, NOAA Weather Radio and/or the National Weather Service.  With more information, they can decide what further protective measures to take.

When the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat of a hazardous weather has passed.   Ottumwa’s Outdoor Warning Sirens are a “take cover” signal and do not sound an “all clear” signal.

The Ottumwa Outdoor Warning Sirens will now be activated when:

  1. The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for Wapello County, and/or
  2.  A trained spotter or credible source reports a tornado or funnel cloud in Wapello County, and/or
  3.  The National Weather Service issues a thunderstorm warning that includes Wind 70 mph or greater and/or golf ball sized hail or larger (1.75 inch diameter or greater) for Wapello County.

The National Weather Service is the issuing agency for warnings and severe weather information.  Siren activation may also occur upon report of visual identification of a tornado, 70 mile-per-hour wind, or golf ball sized hail by a credible National Weather Service trained weather spotter.     Please note that the wind speed and hail criteria for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning from the National Weather Service is significantly lower than that for activation of the Outdoor Warning System sirens.

The National Weather Service issues weather related information across multiple platforms, both public and private, simultaneously.   It is possible for someone to receive severe weather information on a cell phone application or over the internet prior to the Outdoor Warning Sirens being activated. This is a normal occurrence.

The City of Ottumwa encourages residents to monitor the local media, NOAA Weather Radio and/or the National Weather Service for the most current weather information.   Please remember, 9-1-1 is an emergency phone number for reporting emergencies.  Do not call 9-1-1 to ask questions about a severe weather event.