Platteville police say radio frequency likely activated tornado sirens unintentionally

Tornado sirens sounded for 6 minutes

The Platteville Police Department said Wednesday it was investigating what caused the city’s tornado sirens to go off on Tuesday evening.

Lt. Jeff Haas said the sirens went off around 6 p.m. Tuesday and sounded for about six minutes. The Police Department sent out a news release stating it was a false alarm.

“It was not due to human error, we’ve determined,” Haas said. “We believe that it’s RF, a radio frequency signal, outside of our ability to control.”

Haas said this was the first time he could remember that the tornado sirens were a false alarm. From the investigation, Haas said he believes a thunderstorm warning might have triggered the sirens.

“We had to put out paging tones to alert our EMS and our fire department that there was a thunderstorm warning,” Haas said. “After those tones went out, about a minute afterwards, is when the activation of the tornado siren went off.”

He said a technical services provider was investigating to determine the exact cause, and the Police Department tried to recreate the unintentional activation of the tornado siren Wednesday afternoon.

“We just want to make sure that the problem is fixed and reassure people that any alarm that they do hear that they should heed because we do not want to have people caught in a tornado,” Haas said.

He said people in Platteville know how serious tornadoes are. The area was hit by two in 2014.

“I know, in the past, people probably thought, ‘It’ll never happen here,'” Haas said. “That resonates quite a bit with a lot of the citizens of Platteville.”

This is the monthly siren test in #Platteville, but last night, the police department says the sirens went off when they weren’t supposed to #news3

— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) May 2, 2018

Melody Dillon remembers the 2014 tornadoes.

“My apartment building that I manage, it was very close to that, but we weren’t touched at all. It was just amazing,” she said. “We toured the damage after that storm, so we know it’s serious.”

Her mind flashed back to the moment when she heard the tornado sirens go off Tuesday night.

“My husband and I were home, and we were in the kitchen, and I heard the siren,” Dillon said. “We looked at each other, and we said, ‘Really?’ and so we looked out the front window, and we didn’t really see any conditions that would warrant a tornado.”Platteville police say radio frequency likely activated tornado sirens unintentionally

Haas said making sure the tornado sirens work properly is the city’s top priority because he wants people to be able to depend on them.

The Police Department conducted a regularly scheduled monthly siren test Wednesday afternoon and said the sirens worked properly.