Alerts & Warning Systems

Tornado Sirens

What should I do when I hear the sirens?
When you hear tornado sirens, go inside and tune to local media to get more information.
Why can’t I hear the sirens in my house?
Sirens are an outdoor warning system designed only to alert those who are outside that something dangerous is approaching.
How can I get alerts when I’m at work or in my house?
For alerts indoors, every home and business should have a NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards. NOAA Weather Radio is like a smoke detector for severe weather, and it can wake you up when a warning is issued for your area so you can take appropriate action.
When are sirens tested?
Sirens are tested according to local community policies.
Why don’t the outdoor warning sirens sound an all-clear signal?
People should be indoors and monitoring local media for updates on the storm.
Will the sirens warn me of every dangerous storm?
The safest approach is to be proactive and use all of the information available to protect yourself and your family from threatening weather. Nothing can replace common sense. If a storm is approaching, the lightning alone is a threat. Sirens are only one part of a warning system that includes preparation, NOAA Weather Radio, and local media.
Who activates the sirens?
Sirens are typically activated by city or county officials, usually a police or fire department or emergency management personnel. Check with your city or county officials to learn more.

NOAA All-Weather Radio

If you don’t have a NOAA Weather Radio, there are other methods for receiving forecasts, watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. Tune in to your local radio and television stations for the latest news and updates on the situation, and visit for information about weather radios and other online services.

All individuals living or working in tornado-prone areas should have a weather radio inside their home or place of work. A weather radio is particularly important for those living in an area that does not have storm warning sirens. All-weather radios broadcast National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, and post-event information for all types of hazards, both natural and technological.

NOAA Weather Radios are available at electronics stores across the country and range in cost from $25 to $100 or more, depending on the quality of the receiver and number of features. The NWS does not endorse any particular make or model of receiver.

What to Look for in a NOAA Weather Radio

  • The most desirable feature is an alarm tone. This allows you to have the radio turned on but silent, listening for a special tone that is broadcast before watch and warning messages that give immediate information about a life-threatening situation.
  • Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, a feature available since the mid-1990s, is capable of providing detailed, area-specific information. Unlike other NOAA Weather Radios, the SAME feature will filter out alerts that do not affect your immediate area.
  • It should operate on batteries during times when electrical service may be interrupted. Look for radios with an AC adapter and battery compartment.
  • The radio should be tuneable to all seven NWR frequencies. For the latest list of frequencies and transmitter locations, check the NOAA Weather Radio website.
  • The hearing and visually impaired can receive watches and warnings by connecting weather radio alarms to other kinds of attention-getting devices, such as strobe lights, pagers, bed-shakers, personal computers, and text printers.

Registering for Alerts for Your Area

In Missouri, many local governments, media outlets and others sources offer free services that automatically send out text messages and/or emails alerting users to severe weather advisories, severe weather and flood watches and warnings. Some services also allow the user to sign up for school closure and road closure information and breaking news. Because text messaging fees will apply, sign up only for the services that you desire. Also, be aware that some alerting services from private companies charge a fee.

In addition, some services offer apps for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android platforms.

Do not only rely on text alerts for severe weather warnings. Follow the weather forecast and use a NOAA weather alert radio in your home.