Area counties unique about when storm sirens are sounded

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is the sound we have come to know when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning. But in Eau Claire County, Chippewa County, and Dunn County you will also hear the sirens sound during severe thunderstorm warnings.

"The goal is to make the people out there aware of the situation just as with the tornado you've got similar forces in play and they need to seek shelter immediately," said Tom Hurley, Eau Claire County's Emergency Management Coordinator.

Hurley says the elements you find in severe storms can be just as dangerous. And the idea is to get people inside before things get even worse.

"With damaging winds, hail, lightning, there certainly are acts of nature out there that could cause someone great harm or even death," Hurley said.

Eau Claire County began sounding the sirens for severe thunderstorms back in 1996 after a severe storm tore apart trees and damaged buildings in Eau Claire and Altoona. 17 years later, there is still mixed reaction about whether it is a good idea.

"I heard it yesterday and kinda thought it was a tornado," said Tchai Veu.

Veu worries about us losing a once common reaction.

"I think once they start using it for something else, everyone kind of loses their instinct of running down to the basement," he said.

Eva Popp on the other hand likes hearing the siren for a severe thunderstorm warning, especially when she is outside.

"If you're fishing like this, I know I biked here, I wanna know if there's gonna be a thunderstorm going on so I can get home," she said.

And Deb Kappus admits she gets a little startled every time the siren next to her house goes off. But says she still sees the value of having it sound during severe thunderstorm warnings.

"It's really loud and you always think, is it something serious or not serious? But I think I'd rather have it go off and know if I should be concerned or not and turn on a TV, radio or something," she said.

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