Emergencies will sound different

Pierce County residents living near the county’s outdoor emergency warning system will hear new sounds and voice instructions during the system’s monthly tests.

Originally installed to warn of a lahar from Mount Rainier during eruptions, the system now notifies communities about other hazards, including floods and wildfires. For many years, people have heard the system’s siren during the monthly tests. That sound has been replaced with a chime.

During actual emergencies, the system uses a “wail” siren during a lahar and a steady warning sound for other situations. Alerts are also conveyed with strobing blue lights and by automated voice n English and Spanish.

Areas where the warning system is located include the Port of Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup, Sumner, Orting, South Prairie, Wilkeson, Carbonado, McKenna, Alder Lake, Elbe, and Ashford.