CEMA delays testing new weather siren upgrades - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

CEMA delays testing new weather siren upgrades

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CEMA director Clayton Scott CEMA director Clayton Scott

New technology has arrived to help Chatham Emergency Management Agency alert specific communities of tornado warnings and hazmat situations, rather than the whole county even if the whole county is not in danger.

The weather, ironically, playing a role in a delay to testing the system and getting it active.

As WTOC first reported in February, the siren update covers all 60 sirens in Chatham County. The upgrade will allow the National Weather Service and CEMA, acting on information from the weather service, to identify a specific area if they are in danger of a tornado or experiencing a hazmat situation, and sound those specific alarms. Right now, all of the sirens go off for the entire country, regardless of where the true threat exists.

The electronic part of the siren upgrade is installed, but each siren has to be tested. However, CEMA has two things working against them at the moment. They are down a siren tester, so one person will have to test all 60 sirens across the county which he will begin next week instead of this week as originally planned.

The other reason for the delay, according to CEMA director Clayton Scott, is the weather. Scott says they do not want siren tests going off when chances for real tornados are so high right now. He's afraid people may think they are crying wolf, and not heed a real warning.

"That's right. It could be the real thing. If they think they heard on the news it's a test and don't realize it's a real alarm, instead of, Uh oh, let's go take shelter," Scott said.

CEMA will wait out this week, and next week the testing of each siren will begin. The upgrade should be complete by mid-June.

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