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Hear sirens during the recent severe weather? Here’s why.
Weather sirens 08102023
A weather siren is mounted on top of Dawsonville’s water tower. - photo by Julia Hansen

When sirens rang out Monday to alert people about the incoming severe weather, many shared that they thought one thing at the time–a tornado was coming. 

But, as Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services recently let locals know, that’s not the only time those sirens may sound.

This story continues below.

When are weather sirens used in Dawson County?

Local emergency managers will decide to activate weather sirens when there are approaching tornadoes or very severe weather such as large hail and extreme winds, according to information Dawson County Fire and EMS shared on Tuesday. 

Before more updated forecasts Monday, the National Weather Service was predicting up to 80 mph winds, pea-sized hail and heavy rain in areas including Dawson County.

“As the storm approached the county, emergency managers made the decision to activate our weather sirens,” Dawson Fire & EMS stated. “Fortunately, the county avoided any severe damage. Please remember that we don’t take activating these sirens lightly and we are only acting on the information we have at the time to safeguard our community.”

Why are the outdoor warning sirens sometimes sounded for hail and wind? 

Thunderstorm winds of more than 70 mph can uproot or snap trees, and golf ball-sized hail or larger can break windows. DCFES called these conditions “a direct risk to life” for anyone caught outdoors. 

More communities, including the Dawson County area, are adapting their policies on outdoor warning siren use to reflect these weather threats. 

Get severe weather alerts

  • Sirens: Locations throughout Dawson County and Dawsonville will sound when a storm warning has been issued for the area. 

  • Phone/Web: The Weather app, Smart911 and other Android/iPhone apps (available on the Google Play store or App Store)

  • TV: WSB-TV, 11Alive, FOX 5, Atlanta News First

  • Radio: NOAA all-hazards weather radio; more tips on setting up your radio at

What should I do when I hear the outdoor warning sirens?

If people can hear it, they can be impacted by the incoming bad weather. People should move to a safe location such as a sturdy building or a vehicle if a building isn’t nearby, according to DCFES. 

Phone apps like the Weather app or the Smart911 app Dawson County uses are an easy way to get weather alerts which are pulled directly from the National Weather Service. Those applications can be downloaded from either the Google Play store or the App store for iPhones. 

People can also follow forecasts on Atlanta-area TV news channels or the Facebook pages for local media outlets, Dawson County Fire and EMS and/or the Dawson County Government.

An all-hazards NOAA Weather Radio is another key way to get weather updates. 

“NOAA Weather Radio is like a smoke detector for severe weather, and it can wake you up when a warning is issued for your area so you can take appropriate action,” DCFES added. 

Why can’t I hear the outdoor warning sirens in my house? 

“Sirens are an outdoor warning system designed only to alert those who are outside that something dangerous is approaching,” DCFES stated. 

The sirens are intended to warn people who may be outdoors and aren’t meant to be heard well indoors. While the sirens do not sound an all-clear signal, people can get updates indoors through weather alerts on their TVS, radios, phones and/or computers. 

Where are sirens located, and when are they used?

Dawson County currently has seven sirens it uses in the county and another one located in Dawsonville’s city limits. 

The county’s Emergency Management Agency will only issue a severe weather warning or tornado warning when the National Weather Service has issued an official warning for Dawson County, DCFES stated. 

Sirens tests are usually conducted on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m., weather permitting.

Will the outdoor warning sirens warn me of every dangerous storm? 

In its statement, DCFES explained that sirens are “only one part” of a warning system that also includes the preparation and information sources previously listed. The agency also stated that for approaching storms, “the lightning alone is a threat,” apart from other possible hazards. 

“The safest approach is to be proactive and use all of the information available to protect yourself and your family from threatening weather,” DCFES stated. 

More tips on severe weather preparedness are available through the National Weather Service’s website at