What Are They Intended For?

Hamilton County’s Outdoor Warning Siren System consists of about 190 sirens, placed as strategically as possible throughout the county, and serve as an early warning device to alert citizens to take shelter indoors and seek additional information. While the outdoor warning system can be an effective method of notifying those that are outdoors, to seek shelter indoors, it is only one component of a comprehensive emergency warning system. In addition, you should obtain a NOAA weather radio, familiarize yourself with the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and tune in to local media reports, from television, radio, or social media.
FederalDesigned as an Outdoor Warning System, the sirens SHOULD NOT be relied upon to provide sufficient warning INDOORS or in NOISY AREAS. Air conditioning, thunder, wind, rain, and other conditions can cause the sirens not to be heard indoors or outdoors, even if sirens can be heard during monthly tests.  Sirens are also subject to lightning strikes and other equipment malfunction.  For these reasons, everyone is encouraged to have multiple ways to receive information about severe weather.

Hamilton County Sirens 2016

Activation Criteria

There are four basic criteria that Hamilton County EMHSA uses to activate the sirens:

  1. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a Tornado Warning for Hamilton County
  2. A Trained and Certified Weather Spotter reports a tornado to the NWS or to Hamilton County EMHSA
  3. A tornado is reported by a local public safety official (police/firefighter) to the NWS or to Hamilton County EMHSA
  4. A dangerous situation occurs which requires citizens to seek shelter immediately


Hamilton County has the capability of activating all of the sirens at once or by activating one or more of six siren zones. All sirens are sounded unless the threat is clearly confined to an individual zone (or zones). During a tornado warning, the sirens will be sounded for a three minute duration in ten minute intervals (three minutes on, seven minutes off) for as long as the tornado warning is in effect. There is NO “all-clear” siren.

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