Biloxi to test emergency sirens Wednesday morning

The City of Biloxi will test its emergency warning sirens next week as part of a statewide effort by the National Weather Service to prepare for what is expected to be an active tornado season.

The three-minute test of the 10 sirens will occur at 9:15 on Wednesday morning and will mirror an actual situation in which a tornado had been sighted. In Biloxi, the sirens will continuously blare the tornado alert tone.

The goal, says Sgt. Milton Houseman, the city’s emergency manager, “is to get as many schools, businesses and citizens to think about what they would do in the event of a tornado, to have a plan on dealing with severe weather and be able to activate that plan on a moment’s notice.”

The National Weather Service says that 2010-2011 tornado season – which included killer storms striking small towns in Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri – was driven by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. The condition is known as La Niña, and is a contrast from El Niño, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

“All indications are that the La Nina pattern will return for the 2011-2012 winter and spring seasons,” Steve Wilkinson of the National Weather Service wrote in an email to local authorities across the state. “A look back at history suggests that the upcoming tornado season will again be very active.”

Biloxi launched its network of 10 warning sirens in March of this year, with the towers placed at locations throughout the city, many at neighborhood fire stations. All 10 towers can be used simultaneously or individually, depending on the magnitude of the event.

Biloxi, incidentally, also will be part of the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which will take place Nov. 9, 2011, at 1 p.m. Biloxi time. The test will use a tone to simultaneously interrupt virtually all broadcast and cable programming in the United States.

About the towers: For background on the towers and to hear the tones they can emit,
click here.

The deadly tornadoes: For a look at last season’s destructive tornadoes, as reported by Wikipedia, click here.

El Nina: For more about El Nina, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, click here.

News and notes

The Snake and friends: Football great Ken Stabler, once the executive host at the now-defunct Biloxi Belle Casino Resort in the early days of legalized gaming, will headline a golf tournament to raise money for the rebuilding of the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. Four-man teams will be able to play with Stabler and such luminaries as Ray Guy, Jackie Sherrill and Ray Perkins in the Grand Bear-hosted event, which takes place on Tuesday. To read more and see how you can sign up, click here.

Biloxi First: Trent Lott, Cono Caranna, Clark Griffith and a host of other notables will be on hand this evening for a benefit roast of trailblazing legal eagle Clare Sekul Hornsby of Biloxi. The dinner affair, which benefits the public education-minded Biloxi First Foundation, begins with a 6 p.m. cash bar, followed by dinner and roasting. A number of $50 tickets will be available at the door.