Sound the alarm: Eau Claire County storm sirens sound off for all types of severe weather

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - We are well into spring and Wisconsin’s severe weather season. Over the past few weeks, there have already been numerous severe weather events.

Eau Claire County’s emergency alert system has already issued 20 severe weather-related alerts this month.

When there is a severe weather event, you may hear storm sirens go off, but are they for storms or tornadoes or both?

There are more than 30 storm sirens in Eau Claire County.

“When people hear sirens in Eau Claire county, they should take the sirens seriously when they hear them,” Eau Claire Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Allyn Bertrang said.

Bertrang says the sirens go off for all severe weather including tornadoes.

“So it might mean heavy rains, it might mean hail, might mean thunder and lightning,” Bertrang said. “Just various types of the severe weather that could be present.”

Bertrang says the weather center in Chanhassen, Minnesota alerts the area when to set the sirens off.

“When they recognize that there is potentially severe or dangerous weather that’s going to occur here in Eau Claire County, they will notify our Eau Claire County Communications Center and they will advise them as to what the best time is for them to set off the warning sirens,” Bertrang said.

Eau Claire County Management Coordinator Tyler Esh says the sirens are actually not meant to be heard in your home, but rather when you’re outside.

So if you’re at, say, the farmer’s market or music in the park, out in the community and you hear a siren that should alert you to go look at your phone. What is going on? Where is the issue going on?” Esh said.

That’s why Esh stresses the importance of having multiple ways to get severe weather updates.

“If you’re in an area where you can get an alert through like the emergency notification system for the county or one of our news station’s alert systems, great,” Esh said.

Bertrang agrees.

“There may be things that pop up on weather apps, for instance, on your phones, radio, and TV,” Bertrang said.

If you hear the sirens go off or get alerts for severe weather, Bertrang says to get somewhere safe.

“They should seek shelter, preferably, especially in the case of a potential tornado type weather, seek shelter in the lowest area of the building that they’re in,” Bertrang said.

If you find yourself traveling on the road during severe weather, Esh says you should seek shelter in a building like a store. If you’re on the road during a tornado warning, he says to turn around and go in the opposite direction.

To learn about Eau Claire County emergency alert system, click here.

For a map of storm sirens in Eau Claire County, click here.

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