The Richmond Register

Local News

February 1, 2013

To cancel or not to cancel? How local schools make that call



What the sirens mean

Good communication with the county’s Emergency Management Agency help the districts decide whether to cancel school, said both Hogg and Stewart.

With regard to weather, the sirens are only activated when there is a thunderstorm or tornado warning, not a watch, said Carl Richards, EMA director.

During Wednesday’s storms, the warning siren indicated that suspicious cloud rotation was spotted in the area, but not necessarily a tornado, Richards said.

A warning siren is typically followed by a message about seeking shelter, he said. Although some may believe there is no need to warn citizens about mere thunderstorms, “sometimes (such storms) turn into other things,” he said.

“Everyone wants to make this black and white, but weather is not black and white,” Richards said. “It’s shades of gray, and there’s no way to make everyone happy when it comes to weather.”

In addition to weather sirens, test sirens and community emergency sirens also can be heard across the county.

However, nobody has ever heard the community emergency sound, Richards said. This alert warns citizens to “humongous emergency events,” such as a problem at the Blue Grass Army Depot or the railroad.

This alert sounds a lot like a “European police siren from an old James Bond movie,” he said.

Siren tests can be heard the first Saturday (today) and third Wednesday of every month at 12:20 p.m. Tests are not conducted if threatening weather is occurring.

Visit to learn more about emergency management in Madison County.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

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