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Outdoor Warning Systems are put into place in the City of Lowell to warn citizens of impending threats from severe weather. These systems are designed to warn people who are outdoors. You may or may not hear them if you are inside your house. All households should have a NOAA Weather Radio with S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) for Benton County. Weather radios can be purchased from a number of local retailers.

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Click HERE to see the storm sirens map!

Outdoor Warning System Policy

Purpose: To establish guidelines pertaining to use of outdoor warning systems in the City of Lowell and to establish recommendations for their use.

Outdoor Warning System

An Outdoor Warning System (OWS) consists of siren(s) designed to alert citizens of approaching or existing hazardous conditions, which will require immediate protective actions in order to save lives and property. Traditionally, these systems have been mistakenly referred to as "tornado sirens" but the term fails to acknowledge all applications for sounding sirens.

I. Reasons for Activation

The City of Lowell has developed an outdoor warning system to alert and notify citizens in outdoor areas of emergency situations. These situations include but not limited to natural emergencies, transportation accidents involving hazardous materials, emergencies at fixed facilities, acts of terrorism or other catastrophic events in which the community needs to be informed immediately. Citizens in indoor areas should not mistakenly wait to hear a siren as their only source of warning information. A NOAA All Hazards Radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, and the Benton County alert notification system (BC Alert), and local radio and television stations are good methods of receiving warning messages and information indoors.

II. Activation Guidelines 

a. The Outdoor Warning System is to be activated when there is official notification of a tornado or funnel cloud sighting in the city or neighboring jurisdiction that has the potential to impact the city.

b. The official notification means that it is relayed by any public safety agency or official, including but not limited to, the National Weather Service, Arkansas Crime Information Center or the Benton County Office of Emergency Management. 

The official notification received must be of a tornado warning with polygon lines entering or encompassing the City of Lowell.

c. The Police Chief will be contacted when official notification is presented to the City of Lowell for authorization to activate the OWS.

d. If the event the Police Chief cannot be contacted, the Police Department's Commander on Call will be contacted for authorization to activate the OWS.

e. In the event a visual sighting of a tornado or funnel cloud is viewed by any Lowell Police Officer or Firefighter or official, the Police Shift Supervisor can authorize the activation of the OWS.

f. In the event no authorization can be obtained due to communications failure, the Police Shift Supervisor can authorize the activation of the OWS. 

g. Sightings reported by private citizens will not be cause for activating the OWS unless confirmed by official sources or the report seems credible and the threat imminent.

h. The OWS can be activated for other emergencies as directed by City officials.

III. Outdoor Warning System Procedure

OWS will be sounded with the 15 minute wail button continuously while the tornado or other threat is upon the City of Lowell. The OWS can be activated from either dispatch console, from one of the portable radios specifically coded with tone to set it off or it can be set off manually at the siren decoder. When the threat has passed, the cancel tone will be sent to the siren controllers to turn off the OWS. There will not be an all clear siren tone. Citizens need to tune to radio/TV news for all clear. 

IV. Notification of Activation

a. The Lowell Police Department Dispatch Center should make external notifications to neighboring jurisdictions indicating the OWS has been activated. Notification should also be made to the Benton County Emergency Operations Center.

b. The Police Chief, Commander on Call, or the Police Shift Supervisor that authorized the activation of the OWS will notify the Lowell Mayor of the activation.

V. Monthly Testing

The City of Lowell will test their Outdoor Warning System (OWS) on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:00 pm. OWS will not be tested during periods in which severe weather is possible, as to avoid confusion between actual severe weather and testing. The City of Lowell may conduct additional testing to ensure the OWS is functioning properly.

VI. References

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Outdoor Warning System Guide, CPG1-17R

Click HERE to see the storm sirens map!


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