Warning Systems and Signals 

 warning siren

weather radio 

cell alerts 


 round social media icons

 emergency alert icon

Outdoor Sirens

NOAA All-Hazards Radio

Smartphone Alerts

Third-Party Notifications

Social Media

Local Broadcast Media


When disaster strikes, there may only be a short time to make critical decisions. Though it is rate, catastrophic events such as tornadoes or major chemical releases do occur. These events cannot be predicted, but precautions can be taken to minimize the danger.

One of the most vital things you can do to minimize the danger these events pose, is to simply be aware that a danger is present. For this reason, it is important you understand the warning system.

Eau Claire County Warning System

Eau Claire County Emergency Management, in cooperation with the cities of Altoona and Eau Claire, has purchased a mass notification system for residents of Eau Claire County.  Emergency officials will be able to utilize this device for any emergency event that may affect the community.

The system requires the public to sign-up to receive notifications for emergencies impacting the safety of our community.  Weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS), warnings for evacuation or shelter-in-place, missing persons search announcements, and unplanned road closures are some of the notifications that this system will be utilized for. 

Eau Claire County residents are encouraged to register for alerts.  SIGN UP NOW >>

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings

Typically, the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing all severe weather alerts. The National Weather Service, when issuing severe weather alerts, uses the terms “Watch” and “Warning.”  Knowing the difference between a “Watch” and a “Warning” is very important.

When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, the National Weather Service will issue a “Watch.” When a severe weather watch is issued, you should be alert for changes in the weather and be prepared to act quickly.

Take a Watch seriously. Even though severe weather may not be imminent, watches are issued to give you a heads-up that conditions may be changing. Be aware of your surroundings. A watch being issued is also a good reminder to check on warning devices to assure they are working properly.

National Weather Service meteorologists use information from weather radar as well as a network of trained spotters to issue severe weather warnings. A “Warning” means that severe weather is actually occurring or is imminent. For example, a Tornado Warning means that the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar is detecting wind circulation that could produce a tornado. Tornado Warnings are also issued if trained spotters have actually sighted a tornado or specific indicators of a tornado. You should take immediate steps to protect yourself when a “Warning” of any type is issued.


Following significant storm events, people often report that the storm hit “with no warning.” This is tragic, but it is only very rarely true. Major storm events are usually preceded by a Watch issued hours in advance, and a Warning issued when dangerous weather is imminent. Advance warning time is available, if people receive the information and take appropriate action.

The warning system can only be effective if you actually receive the information. There are a great deal of warning devices and methods available to you. We recommend that you take advantage of as many of them as possible. No single warning method is perfect and no warning method can be guaranteed never to fail.

Have a back-up! By relying on one single method, such as the sounding of the outdoor warning sirens or the receiving information solely from broadcast meteorologists, you risk missing a warning if that system fails. By taking a systematic approach and getting information from more than one source, you are much more likely to receive the warning, even if there is a failure in one of the components.

We strongly recommend that you consider the following:

  • Do something to assure that you are able to receive warning information when issued.
  • Have a backup. (Nothing works perfectly, 100% of the time.)
  • Purchase and use a weather alert radio if you don't already have one.
  • Rely on the sirens only for outdoor warning.
  • Verify that the Wireless Emergency Alert feature is enabled on your smart phone.
  • Set up a weather warning app on your smart phone.
  • Turn to broadcast radio or television for details and follow-up information.
  • Register to receive alerts on your cell phone, text, and e-mail at: Sign up for Eau Claire County Alerts
  • Follow us on Twitter @EauClaireCoEM and like us on Facebook Eau Claire County Emergency Management

Please contact Eau Claire County Emergency Management if you have any questions about the County's warning system or would like additional information on available options.