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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Offices of Communications and Emergency Management have developed standard protocols consistent with statewide practices for activation of outdoor warning sirens.

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The following are descriptions are weather-related emergency announcements:

E Tornado Warnings are issued when the National Weather Service is monitoring a storm capable of producing a tornado on radar. These are radar-indicated tornadoes, which mean a tornado may be occurring. Tornado warnings also are issued when Skywarn spotters or law enforcement personnel are able to visually confirm a tornado.

E Tornado Watches are issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes.

E Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued when storms are capable of producing storms with destructive winds in excess of 58 mph or hail larger than 1 inch in diameter (the size of a quarter). Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued when severe weather is happening or will happen for the warned area.

E Severe Thunderstorm Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. Watches mean it could happen, and warnings mean they are happening or will happen.

Outdoor weather sirens

Outdoor warning sirens are designed to warn citizens who are outside of any impending weather. They are not designed to be heard indoors.

Several sirens are located throughout Bemidji with additional sirens in Blackduck and Kelliher.

Sirens are activated in the event of a Tornado Warning being issued by the National Weather Service for storms that are in the immediate area and an imminent threat to citizens or a confirmed tornado has been observed by Skywarn observers or law enforcement.

Sirens also are activated when intense Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued with storms that are capable of producing straight-line winds in excess of 70 mph. Citizens should take immediate steps to seek safe shelter when the sirens sound and turn on whatever device that will update them on weather activity.

When the sirens are activated for severe weather, they will sound for 3-4 minutes. If sirens stop sounding before the arrival of severe weather do not assume the threat is over. Citizens should continue to monitor weather updates throughout the duration of the watch or warning.

Calling 911 for weather information is not appropriate. The 911 system is intended to be used to report immediate threats to life and property.

The most appropriate place to receive weather updates is from a NOAA weather radio, commercial television, radio with Emergency Alert System, and the Internet.

Sirens are tested at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each summer month. Sirens are also activated during Severe Weather Awareness Week in April.

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