Friday, April 23, 2010

Did you hear the wail of the Earth Day sirens in Madison yesterday?

We were taking an Earth Day walk near Lake Wingra yesterday afternoon, enjoying the mild sunny weather and the new green leaves budding out everywhere, when sirens all over Dane County seemed to go off all at once (which they did, as it later turned out). Their rising and falling wail rang in our ears.

Hard to tell what it was all about. It was Thursday, not Wednesday, the day that the sirens get a brief periodic test every few weeks. Should we take cover? Was a surprise nuclear attack imminent? It hardly seemed likely or possible. What about a tornado? The sirens screamed just like tornado sirens. But the sky was clear blue, with just a few wisps of cloud. The breeze was gentle. Not tornado weather.

So what was it? As we walked along, I began to speculate that maybe the sirens were sounding a wake-up call about the fate of the Earth. It seemed appropriate for the day. Gaia can use all the support we can provide..

Later I found out the sirens were part of a statewide tornado drill, part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. The annual drill is designed to test the entire warning system, making sure the National Weather Service, local emergency management and the general public are all on the same page. In Dane County 122 sirens were activated, and only two malfunctioned.


jjmadison said...

we had a tornado drill in our office building in the afternoon too. i was writing a report when the extremely loud PA system started its shrill beckoning for attention. the person making the announcement mumbled over the fact that it was a drill and had the students in the building a bit riled up over the fact that they needed to take immediate cover.

this time of year, fellow students are prone to setting off fire alarms in residence halls in response to letting off steam during late night preparation for final exams.

we got the all clear and an email update that all systems were functioning well. then back to work as usual.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

We were working in the garden and had the same reaction when we realized it was 1 pm-ish on a Thursday. Figured we'd just listen for the sound of a train and then throw ourselves on the ground. I believe April traditionally has the highest number of tornadoes because of the huge temperature extremes that happen in quick succession in this month.