Outdoor Warning System (OWS)


The City of Princeton has an Outdoor Warning System consisting of 8 Outdoor Warning sit

es strategically located throughout the city. The system is state-of-the-art and provides a 24/7 monitoring and control operation of each site.

You can view the weather radar live.

The available frequently asked questions provide information to common questions often asked in regards to outdoor weather warning systems. Share these tips with your families, and practice a tornado drill in your home this week.

Knowing the basics of tornado safety can help you to survive a tornado event.

Why are they called outdoor warning sirens?
The sirens are called outdoor warning sirens because their primary purpose is to alert people who are outside to severe weather. The system is not designed to provide notification inside of your home or business. The location, design and performance of the siren system is intended to provide a warning to people who are outdoors to take cover.
What should I do if I hear an outdoor warning siren?
If you hear an outdoor warning siren you should seek shelter inside immediately according to your family's emergency plan. Once inside, you should turn on a television or radio to learn further information. Local officials will be disseminating information about the emergency through these outlets.
What can I do to be notified of an impending tornado inside my home or business?
Every home or business should be equipped with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. In the event of a watch or warning, most NOAA Weather Radios sound an alarm and turn on automatically. When they are not dispensing watch and warning information, these valuable tools will provide you with detailed forecast information. Many NOAA Weather Radios are equipped with digital Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.) technology. This allows the radio to be programmed to receive automatic warnings specific to Bureau County.
When should I expect to hear testing of the outdoor warning sirens?
The Severe Weather / Outdoor Warning System shall be tested every first Tuesday at 10 a.m. during every month. Tests will not be conducted if weather is inclement or official warnings and watches are active.

Active siren tests will be initiated during the months of April through October. Silent siren tests will be initiated during the months of November through March.

The sirens produce a loud steady tone during the monthly test as well as during an actual tornado warning.
What is the difference between a Watch and a Warning?
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that severe weather is possible. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that severe weather is in the immediate area.

A Tornado Watch means that conditions are present that could produce a tornado. A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted, and that you should prepare to seek shelter. The sirens will only be activated for a tornado warning or if a trained spotter reports a funnel cloud or an actual tornado.

In either case, listen to local radio or television for updates.
Will the sirens provide an "All Clear" signal?
No. If the City of Princeton is threatened by a tornado, the sirens will be activated. Any "all clear" information is provided by the local news media. The sirens will NOT be activated to indicate an "all clear."
Where are the sirens located?
siren_coverage_tThe sirens are strategically located to provide the optimal coverage area for all City residents. The City has 8 sirens locations:

  • City Yards - North Euclid at City Yards
  • Clark Street - Clark Street and Maple Street
  • East Central - East Central at Water Plant
  • Fairgrounds - Fairgrounds Road (Northwest Corner of Fairgrounds)
  • Industrial Park - Progress Drive (In Front of Key Builders)
  • McDonalds - Northeast Corner of Parking Lot
  • South Chestnut - South Chestnut (South of Thompson Street)
  • Coleita Ct - Coleita Ct / Zearing Ave
A full size siren coverage map (JPG) is available here.
Where can I get more information when the sirens are activated?
The area media and the National Weather Service will provide updated information. Please do not call 911 or the Fire Department when you hear the siren. Please use your television or radio to get these updates.
Where do I go in case of a tornado?
If a tornado has been sighted, take cover in the safest place possible. A basement is always the first choice. A guide to find a safe place:

  • Building with a basement: Go to the basement, stay away from windows and chimneys, hide under the stairs or heavy furniture, and cover your head.
  • Building without a basement: Go to the lowest level in the central portion of the building, the first choice is an interior closet, bathroom or hallway, away from windows; cover your head; in all cases you should have a flashlight and a battery operated radio with you; and keep your keys with you, as they can disappear in a tornado.
  • Shopping center or large building: Look for a predesignated shelter; if you don't see one, go to the middle hallway on the lowest level and cover your head.
  • Mobile home or car: Leave at once and find shelter in a building; if there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine, or culvert with your hands over your head
What can I do to prepare for emergencies?
The Fire Department has compiled a Citizen's Emergency Preparedness Guide to help Princeton residents prepare for natural and/or man-made disasters.
When are outdoor warning sirens activated?
The outdoor warning sirens are activated when a public safety officer (police, fire, or emergency medical services) or trained spotter reports sighting a funnel cloud or tornado in or near the City of Princeton. The sirens are also activated under the following provisions:

  • A Tornado Warning issued by the National Weather Service that includes the City of Princeton
  • Any other natural or man-made disaster deemed necessary to activate the outdoor emergency warning and notification system
  • Any threat situation defined by the Federal Government, Department of Homeland Security which would have a direct imminent threat to the City of Princeton
  • Personal observation of a funnel cloud or tornado