Local tornado sirens fail test; disconnected wires to blame

Local tornado sirens fail test; disconnected wires to blame

CHAMPAIGN — If you felt like something was missing this morning, you were right.

None of the tornado sirens in Champaign, Urbana or Savoy sounded the alarm for their regularly scheduled 10 a.m. test on the first Tuesday of the month.

"Something was inadvertently disconnected on the antennas for the radio to transmit the signal" to the sirens, said John Dwyer, director of the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency. "They're being restored right now."

Later Tuesday, the EMA said the issue had been fixed and that a silent test confirmed the sirens are working. 

"We can do a silent test and poll the sirens to make sure the signal went through," Dwyer said. "We don't want to scare people when they're not scheduled, so we'll do a silent test. ... The only difference is that it does not sound."

The next test with sound will happen at 10 a.m. July 3, pending good weather.

"This is why we do the tests, to make sure things are working, rather than wait for the real thing. This is good that we caught it," Dwyer said. "This is why we stress to folks to have backup alerts. You need to have a weather-alert radio or your phone enable to receive alerts. Because you're not going to hear the sirens indoors. They're for outdoor warning only."

The Champaign County EMA controls the sirens for Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and the University of Illinois, while local emergency officials handle the sirens in the rest of the county.

There are 84 sirens throughout the county.