Sirens - Outdoor Warning Siren System

The outdoor warning siren system is tested on the last Friday of the month at 9:30 am.   The test may be cancelled in some situations depending on the weather and cloud-cover conditions. 

Sirens could potentially be sounded for any emergency event, not just tornado warnings.   Always get indoors and tune to local media to learn about event details.

Sirens are NOT intended to be heard indoors, but you may hear them depending on proximity and other factors.   It's important to have other methods to receive alerts.

Outdoor Warning System Siren

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Click on the siren map at left to view or print the location of the outdoor warning sirens in Bismarck and surrounding area.   There are 23 sirens within Bismarck city limits, and four additional sirens in close proximity, including 2 in the city of Lincoln.   All 27 sirens are activated simultaneously as a single system.

When do the sirens sound?

Outdoor warning sirens are one method used to alert citizens of a current or potential emergency. To provide a "tornado warning" is a typical use, but outdoor warning sirens may be used for other emergencies as well. When the sirens sound, go indoors, seek shelter, and monitor local media and your all hazards NOAA Weather Radio if you have one. Regarding Tornadoes - The Outdoor Warning Sirens will be sounded when: - A confirmed funnel has been spotted within a 10 mile approach of the community, OR - A confirmed tornado has been spotted within a 10 mile approach of the community, OR - The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Warning for eastern Morton and southwest Burleigh Counties to include the Cities of Mandan and Bismarck and/or Lincoln. Confirmation of a funnel cloud or tornado may occur through the National Weather Service, trained Law Enforcement Officers, or trained Weather Spotters. Remember, a Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. The Outdoor Warning Sirens will not be sounded for a Watch. There is NO "All-Clear" sounded by the outdoor warning sirens. The all-clear will be made over NOAA Weather Radio, local radio stations, and cable TV. Note: The outdoor warning sirens are tested on the last Friday of the month at 9:30 AM weather permitting. 

How can I be alerted of watches and warnings issued when I'm sleeping?
To add additional protection while you are inside, consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio (all hazards).
We recommend the purchase of a radio with the SAME feature (Specific Area Message Encoding) which means the receiver is capable of turning itself on from a silent mode when the signal for your area is sent out. These radios can be programmed for a specific county (or counties) so you do not receive alerts from areas far away. You should also choose a model that provides you with the option of selecting which alerts you want to receive and which alerts you prefer to deactivate.
Why don't I hear the sirens inside my house?
The siren system was designed as a warning device to people that are outside of their homes, away from radio or television, which may be broadcasting warnings. The system was never designed to be a warning device for people inside their homes. Some people will be able to hear the siren indoors, depending on how close the indoor location is to the nearest siren and other factors such as soundproofing, indoor noises, and wind conditions.
Tornado Sheltering - Where and When?

Tornado shelters are not offered in our community. Citizens are highly encouraged to plan ahead for severe weather. For information regarding what to do when the sirens sound, please review our Alert and Warning Systems Brochure. The best place is in the center of the basement under a sturdy workbench or under the stairway. If you do not have a basement, go to the lowest level of a sturdy building and put as many walls between you and the outside as possible and avoid areas with exterior windows and doors. In a school or other large building, go to the lowest level and into a bathroom or a hallway near the center of the building. Stay away from large wide open rooms like an auditorium or gymnasium! All citizens need to plan ahead to identify where they will shelter during a tornado watch and warning. The city of Bismarck does not own or operate emergency tornado shelters. Those who live in mobile homes or other vulnerable structures should discuss sheltering possibilities with nearby friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. The best time to relocate to the shelter area is during a tornado watch. Do not purposely wait until a tornado warning is issued. Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio to get your tornado watches and warnings as soon as possible. Even if you should happen to be sleeping, you can get the alert.