When Are the Tornado Sirens Going Off?

February 6, 2023

why are the tornado sirens going off

What do the tornado sirens mean?

The sirens are activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning or when a trained storm spotter sees a funnel cloud. They sound a steady alert tone, which is heard throughout the area for three to five minutes.

Sirens are electromechanical devices, which means they can become clogged by trees, wind, rain or hail. They can also be blocked by high background noise levels from highways, or buildings that are too close to the siren.

They can also go off when a severe thunderstorm is threatening the area, but the storm has not reached its destination. In these situations, the siren is a backup warning system.

When the sirens are going off, stay indoors, don't leave the house or apartment, and monitor the situation by television, radio or weather app. If you are unsure, call the local emergency services department.

What happens to the warning system?

When a storm is on the way, we coordinate with the National Weather Service in Wichita and set off a series of tornado warning sirens. We do this to help prevent over-warning and what is called "siren fatigue."

How does the sirens work?

In August of 2018, the county’s outdoor warning system was upgraded to incorporate polygon-specific activations. This means that if the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, only those sirens within the warned area will be activated.

This is a great change in the way our system works, and it greatly reduces the number of false alarms that citizens experience when listening to the sirens. However, this system is not foolproof and will still be a risk factor in a severe weather event.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
hello world!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram