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How to make sure you get alerts for severe weather and tornadoes

There are around 160 sirens in Shelby County, but those only go off three or four minutes at a time, so it's important to have a variety of alert systems.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Meteorologists are advising the Mid-South to keep an eye out on March 31. This could be the second week in a row we see several kinds of severe weather.

In Rolling Fork, Mississippi, several survivors of last week's tornado reported they never heard the siren go off.

According to the ABC24 weather team, there could be only a 20 to 30 minute warning before a tornado hits.

While there are around 160 tornado sirens in Shelby County, Charles Newell with Shelby County Emergency Management and Homeland Security tells us those only go off for three to four minutes. The sound itself is usually only effective within a mile range of the siren.

Instead, emergency leaders say it is best to have several different ways to get your weather alerts.

“Whether that be your cell phone, or a weather radio, or your preferred media outlet, we want folks to have multiple ways to get that live saving information,” said Todd Beal, National Weather Service (NWS) Warning Coordination Meteorologist.

One of the simplest things to do is sign up for emergency alerts in your phone’s setting menu. If your live in an area with and IPAWS alert system, NWS will work with FEMA to notify you when severe weather is close.

“We use various social media sources to comb through and look through the reports when there is active weather in the area,” said Beal.

It is also a good idea to make sure everyone in your home is aware of your family’s emergency plan if severe weather strikes. 

Weather radios are one of the cheapest alternatives when it comes to weather alerts. They cost between $30 and $40 at most retailers, and there is no subscription service to link them with your local National Weather Service.  If you do have a phone, the ABC24 app can alert you if there is a tornado warning in your area.

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