This is only a test.
November 28, 2018 9:20 AM   Subscribe

You live in the continental U.S. You regularly (or semi-regularly) hear an outdoor warning/emergency system test. Where are you?

As part of my ongoing field recording/road trip investigations, I'm looking for places that still publicly test alarms, emergency warnings, and other audible civic instruments. Tsunami, volcano, power plant, military, you name it. These can be in either rural or city environments. Bonus points if there's a particularly nice receiving location with unique sonic characteristics, like a long reverb or a delay. Hit me!
posted by mykescipark to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (101 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Chicagoland.
posted by waffleriot at 9:21 AM on November 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Fishers, IN does one regularly for tornados
posted by leotrotsky at 9:21 AM on November 28, 2018


Chicagoland.
posted by waffleriot at 9:21 AM on November 28 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]


My only threadsit, I promise: Could you (and others in future) be more specific about what kind, how often, and where specifically around the city?
posted by mykescipark at 9:23 AM on November 28, 2018


Couple places I've lived in in the Midwest ran tests at noon on either the first or last Monday of the month during tornado season. For me, this would be Eau Claire, Wisconsin or Grand Rapids, Michigan.
posted by LionIndex at 9:25 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


San Francisco: Tuesday noon siren.
posted by vacapinta at 9:26 AM on November 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Tornado and severe weather sirens are common throughout the south/midwest. They are tested once a month. They sound exactly like an old-timey air raid siren.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:26 AM on November 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


On non-preview, there are sirens placed at regularly spaced intervals around town, so pretty much everywhere.
posted by LionIndex at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2018


They test the tornado alarms in Chicago and suburbs , 10am the first Tuesday of the month.
posted by little king trashmouth at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Ah, vacapinta beat me to the San Francisco one because I was too busy reading 7 facts about it. But thanks for posting this and giving me the excuse to google it - never knew what it was.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Having lived in Chicago for 5 years, I've never such a thing at home or at work.

The outer Richmond district in San Frnacisco, c. 2001, is the last time I've heard such a thing. It happened once a week or every other week, as I recall, for a few minutes on a weekday morning. North Berkeley, 2004, is the last time I've seen the physical hardware required for such a thing, but it wasn't clear it had actually been used since the early 80s.
posted by eotvos at 9:29 AM on November 28, 2018


Honolulu does a monthly siren test.

ETA - whoops just saw you said Continental US - sorry!
posted by Mchelly at 9:30 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Most counties in Minnesota test outdoor tornado sirens monthly. I work in St. Paul and I hear them if I'm at my desk at 1pm on the first Wednesday of the month. The National Weather Service and the county emergency management services seem to test at different times, and some cities and counties seem to have maps of the siren locations.
posted by clavicle at 9:31 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Shabbos siren, every Friday, South Williamsburg
posted by greta simone at 9:31 AM on November 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I believe parts of Brooklyn have a Sabbath siren?
posted by Melismata at 9:31 AM on November 28, 2018


Cincinnati, OH tests their tornado sirens the first Wednesday of the month at noon. At my high school downtown (now condos) there was a siren on top of the building, and the echoes down the marble corridors were deafening and eerie.
posted by coppermoss at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Warner Robins, GA -- it's a tiny town by a massive air force base. I don't remember how often they test it, but there is a klaxon sound and a voice saying it is a test.
posted by Pwoink at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2018


Kansas City, Missouri has a tornado siren drill on the first Wednesday of every month at 11 am. St. Louis, Missouri holds their tornado siren drill on the first Monday of every month at 11 as well.
posted by teleri025 at 9:34 AM on November 28, 2018


Agree that montly testing of tornado sirens is ubiquitous across the midwest, usually at the same time on the first X day of the month. Here in Champaign, IL, they occur at 10:00 am on the first Tuesday of the month, and I can hear them all over town. Of note, the sirens failed a test this year! So, that's why they test them, so that you can see problems before you actually need the siren.

I'm sure you can get some nice delays and reverb off the big old hulking stone buildings on campus.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:34 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


In Hudson, WI (and likely throughout St. Croix County), the severe weather sirens are tested at 11AM on the first Wednesday of the month. There's several directional rotating sirens throughout town, so the sound rises and falls in volume, and can appear to shift directions if you're in an area where you can hear multiple sirens.

(On preview, Hudson is just outside St. Paul, MN, so you would easily be able to get there by 1pm.)
posted by yuwtze at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2018


Madison, Wisconsin. Tornado sirens.
posted by juliapangolin at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Minneapolis has a siren test the first Wednesday of each month at 1pm. I hear it downtown inside of a building if I am close enough to the windows. If you were on the streets, you'd hear it for sure.
posted by soelo at 9:36 AM on November 28, 2018


Oak Ridge, TN has a monthly alert system test because of Y-12 and other nuclear research facilities.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:36 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California. Wednesdays at noon. Siren plus announcement and bleeps/bloops. It echoes off the hills, startles me every time.
posted by gyusan at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2018


The fire house in my neighborhood (the location in my profile is close-enough) gives its klaxon a good couple of honks every day at noon. I suspect it's manual, because the pattern is slightly different every day. You can hear it for half a mile or more, but I also went to nursery school umpty-odd years ago right next door, and let me tell you: it's loud.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:40 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Loudonville, Ohio, a monthly tornado siren, first Wednesday (??) of every month. Might be just during the tornado season.
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:41 AM on November 28, 2018


Evansville, Indiana, and I hear the tornado siren tests from the nearby high school on Fridays at noon. The noise echoes off the walls of the stadium.
posted by minsies at 9:43 AM on November 28, 2018


My hometown in rural Iowa (close to Iowa City) used to sound its siren briefly at 7am, noon and 6pm every day in the 1970s and 1980s; not sure about now. Tornado warnings were a single minutes-long siren; there was also a long siren with a wavering pitch to summon the fire department volunteers.

Can confirm the Chicago Tuesday 10am siren; sounds exactly like home. :)
posted by sencha at 9:46 AM on November 28, 2018


The Chicago airraid tests can be hard to hear if you're relatively far from the sirens, which are typically mounted on big poles in biggish parks or by schools.(Handy map here, no assurance of full accuracy). The only thing I'd note in addition to the regular day and time of the testing is that in some areas, like southern hyde park, they have two different siren types in overlapping ranges, (like this one) so that during an actual tornado warning, when the sirens go on for a while, there's an acoustic puree of the old school long wailing siren on top of the more modern descending bloops.
Lemme tell you, it is very unsettling to soak in that noise for long.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:46 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Dallas, Texas, just east of downtown. Once a month used I hear the tornado sirens testing in my old apartment because I happened to live on the same block as one of the sirens. Also, in April of last year someone hacked into the Dallas tornado siren system and set it off late one evening around 11pm and caused a bit of panic.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Columbus, Ohio tests sirens all over the city every Wednesday at noon. I think they're tornado sirens, but I'm not sure. Nobody actually pays attention to them. To the extent that you do, it's more of a "oh, hey, I guess it's lunch time already" thing. I paid so little attention to them that I can't remember the actual sound. I'm pretty sure it was just a single constant tone (maybe with some Doppler shifting?), but I do remember that after the tone there's some radio-like communication (I think reiterating that it's a test and not an actual warning) and some bloopy modem noises. I think the bloopy modem noises are really the attraction for your purposes.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


In my office in downtown Oakland, at noon on Wednesdays, I believe.
posted by suelac at 9:48 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bloomington, Indiana. Every Friday at noon. Scares me every time.
posted by firstdrop at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2018


As a bonus, the first Wednesday of the month siren test at UC Berkeley overlaps with the daily noon carillon performance. I don't recall if it did every time, since sometimes I was inside or off campus, and maybe some of the carillon performers delayed for a few minutes to avoid an overlap, but I definitely recall hearing both at the same time on more than one occasion. Makes for a bit of a cacophony when you're near the Campanile, and like gyusan said, the sirens echo weirdly off the hills.
posted by yasaman at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2018


I know you specifically said 'outdoor,' and you'd have a difficult time lucking into making it happen, but I've often thought that a high-quality recording of everyone's phones going into EAS mode in an NYC subway car would be interesting. The delays and the weird reception pockets within the tunnels mean that some phones go off repeatedly -- four, five, or more times -- with variable rates of lag, and lots of loops and overlaps and general cursing/fumbling/murmuring/complaining from the commuters in the car. (This happens practically anytime there's a hard flooding rain.)
posted by halation at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


The University of Texas (in Austin) tests their emergency alert system (sirens plus an announcement) at 11:50a on the first Wednesday of every month.
posted by vakker at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Port Townsend, WA

Tsunami warning first Monday of the month at Noon.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:52 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a small Pennsylvania town with a functioning steel mill (just looked it up; it's still open?! wow). They tested SOME kind of alarm at least once a day that could be heard all across town. It sounded like a huge scary cow to my kid ears. Bawwwwhhhhhhhhhh!

OTOH, I don't know what the alarm was for, and I'm not good at estimating how often things happen. But yes, steel mills.
posted by cage and aquarium at 9:52 AM on November 28, 2018


Omaha has tornado sirens that are tested regularly.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:54 AM on November 28, 2018


Cannon Beach, Oregon Moo've to a higher ground tsunami sirens. It is scheduled monthly, I believe and the first time I heard this I was at a touristy camp ground and many of us first timers were absolutely gobsmacked that we were hearing COWS MOOING over the pa system and thought it was some prankster.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 9:55 AM on November 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


My hometown of Walsenburg, CO still blows a curfew siren on weeknights, if that counts.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Every so often, Greenville, Mississippi will sound its tornado sirens around noon. At least I was told that was what those were. It was scary to hear them on a clear day when I was a little girl and the Cold War was still on.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:59 AM on November 28, 2018


Small town Ohio, tornado warning every Friday at noon. I think it's year round, although this question is making me wonder if it's over for the winter. Will pay attention this Friday.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:01 AM on November 28, 2018


Lawrence, KS: " The test will occur at 12 Noon on the first Monday during the months August through February, and on the first and third Monday during the months March through July."

Rural western Ks towns tended to go once a week during tornado season as I recall.

Denver does its tests on the second Wednesday of each month at 11:00 a.m.
posted by rewil at 10:02 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Westchester County NY. I hear the Indian Point test (hopefully just a test) emergency siren. Nuclear Power Plant. I am just on the edge of the evacuation zone although it seems to me that if you are say 9.8 miles or 10.5 miles away, you are fooked either way.
posted by AugustWest at 10:05 AM on November 28, 2018


Tiny MA town where I grew up has a fire horn every day at noon and...6 or 7pm. If you'd like the exact name of the town I can provide by memail.
posted by wellred at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2018


Roswell, GA. First Wednesday of the month - tornado siren.
posted by heathrowga at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2018


Twin Cities: 1pm first Wednesday of the month, every month, Luce enjoys singing along with the tornado siren.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:08 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Denver, Colorado at 11 am on Wednesdays. If you go to that link and click on 'questons and answers' it will download a PDF with a map showing the various locations.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Boulder, Colorado tests their siren the first Monday of every month at 10am. It's technical called the "emergency warning" siren but it's really a flood siren, and is only tested during peak flood season from April through August.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:12 AM on November 28, 2018


Another data point for Dallas. Tested monthly to give you a brief frisson of horror.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:13 AM on November 28, 2018


I worked in Reedley, CA for a time and the siren there is run every day at noon.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2018


Yeah, the Berkeley one certainly reverberates weirdly. We could hear it a good half mile from campus, depending on the time of year.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2018




Houston itself is too sprawling for sirens to be very effective, but the University of Houston has a siren system for inclement weather and emergencies and is tested monthly.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on November 28, 2018


Livonia, Michigan, tests the emergency sirens at 1:00 on the first Saturday of every month. We live about a mile away from the closest siren, and it's so loud that we have to plan the toddler's naptime around it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:21 AM on November 28, 2018


Plano, TX (suburb of Dallas) had a monthly in the afternoon (IIRC) siren test.
posted by MadamM at 10:26 AM on November 28, 2018


In midtown Memphis, TN, I hear them test the tornado sirens every Wednesday afternoon around 3:35.
posted by tomboko at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2018


Cedar Rapids, IA; Williston, ND - tornado siren first Wednesday of every month.

West Branch, IA - noon fire whistle daily
posted by epj at 10:46 AM on November 28, 2018


Cincinnati, OH. Can hear the emergency siren downtown on the 1st Wednesday of every month, at noon. In the Cincinnati suburb of Anderson Township, I live approximately an eighth of a mile from one of the elementary schools; same thing. Goes off every 1st Wednesday of the month, at noon.
posted by cooker girl at 10:46 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


My hometown in rural Iowa (close to Iowa City) used to sound its siren briefly at 7am, noon and 6pm every day in the 1970s and 1980s; not sure about now.
Also in Eastern Iowa, and we have a whistle. (I think it goes at 8AM, noon, and 5:00 PM, but to be honest I barely notice it.) I think this is a thing in a lot of small towns in the Midwest. It used to tell you when to arrive at work, when to leave for your lunch break, and when to leave for the day. I don't know if it's a municipal thing or if was tied to a particular factory or employer.

But every town I know of in Iowa also tests their severe weather sirens once a month.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2018


In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the tornado siren is at 1:00 pm the second Tuesday of each month. I think every midwestern city I've lived in has done this (Springfield, Illinois; Columbia, Missouri; Lawrence, Kansas). You'll probably get this answer (monthly tornado siren testing) from every MeFite who lives in the midwest.

If you're just looking for a loud public noise (other audible civic instruments?), the steam whistle that signals the end of classes throughout the day at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, will make you jump out of your skin if you're anywhere near it. It's at the top of a hill and surrounded by big old university buildings. It's unbelievably loud. Here's the schedule.
posted by FencingGal at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2018


Lahar sirens for the Puyallup river valley/Mt. Rainier. Testing at noon on the first Monday of the month.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oakbrook Terrace, IL (a Chicago suburb) does the 1st Tuesday at 10:00 tornado siren test.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2018


Peekskill/Buchanan NY (35 miles north of NYC) tests the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant sirens on a quarterly basis. They go for 4 minutes and are crazy loud because of the Hudson River Valley sort of captures the sound.
posted by kimdog at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2018


Major universities in the area where I live (central North Carolina, USA) all have emergency siren systems to alert the campus to situations like an active shooter, a chemical spill, or a tornado. They test irregularly, unlike the tornado sirens of my midwest youth*. When the universities test the sirens, they publicize it widely ahead of time.

*I think it was monthly on the first Wednesday at noon.
posted by Stewriffic at 11:38 AM on November 28, 2018


rural oklahoma - tornado sirens friday at noon every week during storm season - say may through august.

there are probably emergency management offices in lots of counties that you could call and get details.
posted by domino at 11:43 AM on November 28, 2018


I live outside of St. Louis, Missouri (St. Charles County). We have emergency sirens that are tested at 9:00am on the first Monday of every month. They are audible from my house and pretty much everywhere else in town, I think, because I always notice them if I happen to be out and about on that Monday morning. I think they are primarily used for tornadoes (in fact, we heard them a few nights ago due to a tornado warning) but maybe other things too.
posted by cpatterson at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2018


Fargo ND -- including neighboring cities West Fargo ND and Moorhead MN -- do siren tests monthly, I think each on a different day (first wednesday, last thursday, one at noon, one at 1pm, etc.) for each municipality. They're primarily for tornadoes, or potential really-bad weather that means "go inside IMMEDIATELY".

When I lived in Sidney MT in the late 80s, early 90s, the siren went off every night at 9pm to announce curfew, don't know if it's still done though. It also sounded as an announcement that there was a fire, as a signal for volunteer firemen to report to the firehouse.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:11 PM on November 28, 2018


Tulsa Oklahoma tests it’s sirens every Wednesday all year at noon unless there is severe weather nearby. We have several different tones. One for tornado, used often at least 4-5 times a year), a tone for flash flooding that has been used a few times for large rainfall events. Finally, the National emergency tone that I think you can sample online but I’ve never obviously heard on the actual siren.

As far as acoustic anomalies, the sirens are spaced one mile apart in diameter. A common misunderstanding is that they’re designed to be heard only outside. The assumption is that other sources would inform you indoors. Almost everyone hears them indoors but I can attest to the fact that in a storm it’s impossible to hear them inside some houses. It is cool to position yourself near the diameter intersections bc the sirens spin and do so from different starting points so you get this weird Doppler effect. The tests maybe last 2-3 minutes.
posted by cookiethedude at 12:20 PM on November 28, 2018


The local nuke plant tests the sirens quarterly.
posted by k5.user at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2018


Ann Arbor, MI. Tornado siren tests at 12:00pm on the first Saturday of every month during the season (something like Mar-Oct). I've always wondered what would happen if a tornado hit at the test time... they say they don't do the test if severe weather is possible, but I'm a big dummy who doesn't always know the weather forecast. Noon on a saturday is sleepytime for me, so I'd probably hear the siren and roll over then die horribly.
posted by axiom at 12:46 PM on November 28, 2018


The sirens around Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania are tested twice per year.
posted by Seeking Direction at 1:28 PM on November 28, 2018


Parts of Hamilton County, Tennessee - Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant monthly testing.
posted by frobozz at 1:35 PM on November 28, 2018




Portage, MI. 1pm on Saturdays. I don't think it's every Saturday... maybe once a month or once a quarter?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2018


If you want two opportunities to record in one day, Minnesota has Severe Weather Awareness Week in mid April. There's one day of the week when sirens are tested twice, once in the early afternoon and again in the early evening. In 2019 it will be the week April 8-12, but I don't see details yet. Here's the link to last year's info -- check back early next year for 2019 specifics.

Growing up in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul the warnings always creeped me out because the siren would be interspersed with a booming godlike voice echoing across the land, advising everyone to take shelter.
posted by theory at 1:45 PM on November 28, 2018


Tornado sirens are tested statewide in Illinois at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Here's a handy list (and map!) of Springfield, Illinois' tornado sirens.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:56 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Until September, I lived within a few blocks of the Iowa State Veteran's Home in Marshalltown. There was a steam whistle every day at 8am, noon, and 5pm.

My parents live in a very small Iowa town that still does DAILY tests of the tornado/volunteer fire department siren at noon. It was recently updated to one of the fancy digital ones that does voice announcements.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2018


I believe parts of Brooklyn have a Sabbath siren?

Not just Brooklyn, and not just the Sabbath either. You see, the Jewish calendar measures days as beginning from sundown to sundown. So for example, the Sabbath begins when the sun sets on Friday evening and ends after sunset on Saturday (techincally when the stars are visible). This is true not just for the Sabbath, but for any holiday that comes with prohibitions against doing what's defined as secular work -- Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur -- and also for fasting days.

So expect any place with a significant Jewish neighborhood to have a air siren or some other widely heard alert that can let the observant know when the secular day has ended and the holiday begun.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:17 PM on November 28, 2018


Lexington, KY sometimes tests the tornado sirens, but this doesn't seem to be on a set schedule. It is announced beforehand. Louisville tests every month, at noon on the first Tuesday of the month (I think).
posted by dilettante at 3:23 PM on November 28, 2018


Fishers, IN does one regularly for tornados

More specifically, the entire state of Indiana conducts a tornado siren test every Friday at 11:00am.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2018


Little Rock, AR does weekly tests on Wednesdays at noon (more detail about the system here). North Little Rock, AR (a separate city on the other side of the Arkansas river) does the same, except when they forget about Daylight Savings Time.

There are a couple baseball stadiums (Dickey-Stephens Park and Ray Winder Field), a football stadium (War Memorial Stadium), and an outdoor concert venue (First Security Ampitheater)--the last of these is free and open to the public except when paid events are scheduled.
posted by box at 3:30 PM on November 28, 2018


The network of sirens and PA speakers in Martin and St. Lucie counties on the Central FL East Coast related to FPL’s St. Lucie nuclear plant are tested monthly, both with siren and a voice announcement. I expect similar tests are done at other FL nuclear facilities such as Turkey Point and Cedar Key.
posted by sudogeek at 3:32 PM on November 28, 2018


Having lived in Chicago for 5 years, I've never such a thing at home or at work.

Friendly advice, if you live in IL and can't hear the first Tuesday sirens, invest in a weather radio.

The tornado siren is in my office's parking lot and I can watch it spin during the test. A tornado will not be catching me by surprise during the workday.
posted by hwyengr at 5:58 PM on November 28, 2018


Well, they do 'em here on the South Shore of Massachusetts every few months, for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. We call it The Man In The Sky. Dogs hate it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:14 PM on November 28, 2018


Seabrook Power Station in NH (near the North Shore of Massachusetts) also sounds them sometimes.

As a bonus, we also get a calendar from them every year with information on where to pick up iodine tablets and what to do if there's an, um, event.
posted by marfa, texas at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2018


Chicago area also has frequent tests of the emergency broadcast system on television...not sure how you figure out the schedule but I've accidentally TiVo'd them, so probably pretty often.
posted by agregoli at 6:44 PM on November 28, 2018


Sorry, missed the outdoor part! I am very interested in this project though.
posted by agregoli at 6:46 PM on November 28, 2018


The Elsmere fire station in Bethlehem NY sets off its horn at 6pm every day. It sounds like a boat horn. The North River (NY) fire station does it at noon every day; it sounds more like a whistle/ air raid siren.
posted by metasarah at 6:55 PM on November 28, 2018


Surf City on Long Beach Island, New Jersey tests a siren at noon every day during the summer. I don't know if it's a year round thing, as I've only stayed there for 3-4 days at a time. I think it's a hurricane/storm siren, possibly implemented after Hurricane Sandy.
posted by Fuego at 7:36 PM on November 28, 2018


Milwaukee, WI, every Wednesday at noon.
posted by Slinga at 7:43 PM on November 28, 2018


When I was a kid during the 1960s and 70s, Belmont, MA (a Boston suburb) tested its emergency siren first Mondays at noon. During the winter, the siren was used to alert people that school would be cancelled due to snow. It rang at 7 am and then again at 7:20. I believe there was a code for all schools, elementary school only, and possibly late start, but I'm not sure.
posted by carmicha at 8:22 PM on November 28, 2018


Some others from Kansas (quoting from official websites or local newspapers):

* Sedgwick County outdoor warning sirens are tested every Monday at noon, except when threatening weather is present and on holidays.

* The outdoor warning system for Johnson County is tested at 11:00am on the first Wednesday of the month. No tests are conducted when extreme cold and/or heavy icing might damage the equipment. Tests are also cancelled whenever there is severe weather (or potential severe weather) occurring in the local area and activating the outdoor warning system might cause confusion as to whether the activation is real event. If the monthly test is cancelled, it will typically be postponed one week to the second Wednesday of the month at 11 AM. If the rescheduled test is also cancelled, no additional testing will be performed that month.

In March, the sirens are also sounded as part of the statewide tornado drill in conjunction with the National Weather Service and the State of Kansas for Severe Weather Awareness Week. These drills are typically conducted on a Tuesday or Thursday (back-up date) afternoon, late enough as not to disrupt the school lunch period.

* (Salina) The outdoor warning sirens will be tested on a regular basis. The test will occur at 4:30pm on the first Monday of each month, weather permitting. If the weather is not suitable for testing the sirens, the test is moved to the 2nd Monday of the month at 4:30pm.

* Pittsburg

* County, City of Pratt: With the exception of the City of Pratt, all devices in the county are tested weekly on Mondays at noon. If the weather is overcast or storms are present the devices will not be tested.

The City of Pratt will test their devices according to the following schedule:
March through October: Weekly at noon each Monday
November through February: Only on a Monday when the weather is clear and a tornado event is indicated.
The City of Pratt will also only test the devices when the temperature is above 30 degrees.

* Ford County Sirens are tested every Wednesday at Noon except when threatening weather is present.
posted by bryon at 11:36 PM on November 28, 2018


City of Evanston: Sirens can also be heard during a test of the Outdoor Warning Systems on the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. They consist of one minute “alert” signal (continuous siren blast), one minute of silence and one minute of “take cover” signal (wavering siren).

Northwestern University: The test will begin at 10 a.m. Tests will be held at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. That is the same time that municipal outdoor warning systems in Illinois are tested.

The emergency alert system consists of roof-mounted speakers at four locations: Allison Hall, Donald P. Jacobs Center, Technological Institute and Harold Anderson Hall at the athletic complex.

The alert system can make the traditional siren sound used by municipalities to warn of severe weather, as well as other sounds. It also can produce voice messages.
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:31 AM on November 29, 2018


In Oklahoma City, OK (and surrounding suburbs) our sirens are tested every Saturday of the year, at noon, UNLESS there is a chance of actual severe weather occurring that day. They are tornado sirens and they are tested that frequently because they actually need to be used to alert for tornado warnings several times every year, mainly in the spring but sometimes in the fall as well. There are sirens all over the city, including downtown, and they all go off at once. I've often wondered what visiting tourists think is happening during the tests.
posted by roadrunner9 at 12:09 PM on November 29, 2018


I live by the Port of New Orleans and there seems to be a weekly alarm test of some sort. I don't know exactly what it is, but it happens routinely.
posted by tryniti at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2018


When I lived in Newport News, VA, we had monthly tests of the sirens for the Surry Nuclear Power Plant. I think it was the first Wednesday of the month in the late morning.
posted by 4ster at 3:26 PM on November 29, 2018


Sandy Springs, Georgia, first Wednesday of each month, sometime between 11AM and noon, tornado warning sirens are tested.
posted by MelissaSimon at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2018


There's one of these somewhere in Bergen County, NJ, but I never figured out why. It was heard easily from a house across the road from Ramapo Reservation.
posted by 3lliot at 5:38 PM on November 30, 2018


I live north of Seattle and someone tests them at noon on (some?) Fridays, but I don't know who (or what I'm supposed to do if it goes off at three on a Tuesday afternoon).
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2018


https://www.shorelineareanews.com/2013/02/what-is-whistle-at-noon.html

This just went off and reminded me of your AskMe. (It's Wednesdays, not Fridays like I'd misremembered.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:10 PM on January 9


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