Around this time of year a lot of places, including my home state of Wisconsin, test their emergency sirens in case of severe weather or some other kind of disaster.
Sirens have to be pretty loud, since it’s their job to catch our attention.
But there was one siren that was so loud it sounded like the end of the world.
Which may have been the point.
This particular siren was the size of a car, which made sense because it was made in part by a car company.
Chrysler worked with Bell Telephone to create the Victory Siren, as it was called.
It was designed in the 1940s, likely to warn people if, say, enemy aircraft were seen overhead.
After World War II, the sirens would have sounded if World War III had begun.
And if it had, virtually everyone would have known about it thanks to the enormous sound this thing made.
138 dB at 100 feet away.
That’s close to a jet engine at close range, and well above the level that can cause hearing damage.
There were some reports that it could go as high as 170 dB, which is past the level where an eardrum could rupture.
The sirens put out so much force, in fact, that it’s said that military teams in the US and UK tried using them to clear fog out of airstrip runways.
The sound waves made the fog particles combine and turn into rain.
By the late 50s the Victory Sirens started to fall out of use.
Many just sort of deteriorated in place over time.
A few were repurposed, others ended up in museums, and several more were restored by siren buffs.
And one, in Seattle, has a new job: every year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s it’s covered in lights and decorated to look like an LED Christmas tree.
Fortunately they don’t fire that one up to play very loud holiday songs.
Today in 2014, the Exeter Vue theater was planning to show the new Darren Aronofsky film “Noah.”
Except that, thanks to a broken ice machine, the theater was flooded.
The Chrysler Air Raid Siren Was So Powerful it Could Induce Rain (Amusing Planet)
Noah screening cancelled due to flooding (The Independent)
Photo by PBMI, CC BY 3.0, via Wikicommons