As most people in the Duluth area know, at 1:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, a test alarm can be heard just about everywhere. For people new to the area, it can be a bit confusing and somewhat nerve-racking

Earlier today, I heard the monthly alarm sound and I must admit I did think it sounded a little different. To me, it seemed to go on longer than usual and while I did take notice, I didn't overthink it since it was 1:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of March.

I glanced at Facebook and saw a few comments regarding the siren and it appeared I was not alone in my observation. One comment I saw in a local community group read:

Did anyone hear the Emergency Alert Siren that just went off in West Duluth and what the message was? I have no idea what it was and there is nothing out there about it. Just checking here to see if anyone knows what it was or if it was just the monthly test.

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While a lot of people wrote that question off by simply saying it was the monthly test, others agreed that this was different.

One person noted, "I noticed they set off the “a tornado warning has been issued seek shelter immediately” voice message with it, which I don’t normally hear during the monthly tests, but I could have just heard it for the first time, idk. Maybe because it’s spring now."

Turns out, those who thought the siren and overall test were different were right! The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office issued a release Wednesday afternoon confirming that the monthly alarm was not sounded, the real alarm was by mistake, which mistakenly gave the impression of a real emergency.

Dewey Johnson, Emergency Support Services Administrator for the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, said that during the test, one of their operators inadvertently pressed the warning button rather than the test button.


This caused the wrong alert tone to sound. Oops! He added that while a lot of people aren't likely aware of the difference between the test tone and the tone for a real emergency, he apologized to anyone in the community who grew concerned by the error.

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The sirens sound primarily in Duluth and Proctor, which have emergency warning systems. Perhaps they should tell everyone the difference between the two alarms on the off chance that a real emergency takes place at 1:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month.

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