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.