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Tornado sirens: Only for when you're outdoors?

Posted at 7:53 AM, Apr 05, 2017

The sound of a tornado siren is something so many can identify. It immediately tells you it's time to take shelter.

But it's important to realize: Sirens can't be heard everywhere -- and they're not supposed to, either.

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"Outdoor warning sirens" are only intended to be heard outside as the name implies.

Yes, many of us can hear that loud sound in our home, but others cannot.

Even the National Weather Service has pointed out this confusion/concern on its website:


When there is a chance for severe weather, you should never rely solely on an outdoor warning siren.

Here are some interesting things I ran across while doing some quick research for this article:

Did you know outdoor warning sirens are intended to get people inside so they can take shelter and also turn on their TV/radio for more information?

Also, an all-clear siren is not sounded because again, the hope is people are watching their TV for warning information and get the all-clear from local broadcast meteorologists.

Finally, not all outdoor warning sirens are sounded for the same thing. These sirens can be sounded for tornado warnings and some counties even sound them for severe thunderstorm warnings. They can also be sounded for chemical emergencies.