As National Severe Weather Preparedness Month, March is a great time to learn about your city’s Emergency Management Program and how it works to protect you. According to Tonya Hunter, Midlothian’s emergency management coordinator, “As the name implies, the OWS is designed for people that are outdoors. The intended response to any OWS system activation is for people to go indoors and seek further information from the various information sources available to them.”
In the City of Midlothian, the OWS may be activated when the following conditions are observed or predicted in the area:
• The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a Tornado Warning. The OWS will automatically activate when the National Weather Service issues a polygon for the tornado warning in the city. The OWS will activate for three minutes to provide warning to the community. There may be times that the siren system is activated more than once to provide advanced warning, when possible.
• The National Weather Service Issues a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and indicates the potential for destructive winds of 70 mph or greater (sustained, not wind gusts).
• Trained storm spotters have reported a tornado in the area, or in a neighboring area that has the potential to affect the city.
• Observed hail of 1½-inch diameter or greater. The size of hail that warrants outdoor warning siren activation may be adjusted at the discretion of local officials in the event of special situations such as large outdoor public gatherings where the potential for injury is increased.
• Other emergency as directed by designated public safety officials.
Midlothian tests the OWS on the first Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m., except when skies are overcast or severe weather is forecasted to avoid confusion between testing and actual weather events. The city silently tests the OWS daily to ensure a properly functioning system.
Currently the system comprises 14 outdoor warning sirens. Locations of the outdoor warning sirens appear on the city’s Emergency Preparedness web page at https://www.midlothian.tx.us/836/Emergency-Preparedness.
In addition to the outdoor alerting systems, Midlothian operates MidlothianSafe, the city’s local emergency alert system, which transmits safety alerts to registered subscribers via telephone, email, and text messages. In the case of a National Weather Service advisory or warning for the city,
MidlothianSafe subscribers will automatically be notified. To register for MidlothianSafe, visit www.midlothian-tx.myfreealerts.com or click “Stay Informed” on the city’s website home page at www.midlothian.tx.us.