Primary Purpose of Exterior Warning Siren System

The City of Rice Lake has five exterior warning sirens strategically located throughout the city to provide advance notification to those who are outside, alerting them to a potentially threatening condition and to take shelter and listen to a television or radio.  The exterior sirens are not intended to be placed so that those inside are to be warned.


The warning sirens are activated by radio signal from the Barron County Communications Center upon notification from the National Weather Service (NWS) for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings issued for Barron County with Rice Lake listed in the potential path of the storm. 


Citizens of Rice Lake, upon activation of the exterior warning sirens, should take shelter and listen to a radio or television for further information.  Do not call 9-1-1 when the sirens go off to find out what is happening.  Listen to the radio and/or television for that information.


Please note a total effective warning system includes the exterior sirens and NOAA weather alert radios.


The warning sirens are not activated for watches nor as an ‘all-clear’ signal.


The Rice Lake Fire Department strongly encourages Rice Lake citizens to purchase a weather alert radio for severe weather notification alerts when inside your home.  Weather alert radios, coupled with the exterior warning siren system, offers a complete notification system. 


Further information regarding severe weather can be located by….

Severe Weather Definitions

The National Weather Service uses specific terminology to relay the weather threat to the public. In the summer, there are a variety of watches and warnings you need to understand in order to be prepared.

Tornado Watch: Means that conditions are favorable for tornados to develop. It is normally issued for 4 to 6 hours, and includes many counties. If you are in or near the tornado watch area, stay informed via NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television. Keep your eye on the sky, and be prepared to take cover at short notice, as tornados can occur with little or no warning.

Tornado Warning: Means that a tornado has been sighted, or a developing tornado is reported by trained spotters or indicated on Doppler radar. A warning is typically issued for a small area for less than an hour. If a tornado warning is issued for your area...take cover immediately!

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Means that conditions are favorable for thunderstorms to produce wind gusts to 58 mph or stronger or hail to 3/4 inch or larger in the watch area. These watches are issued for 4 to 6 hours at a time and for a number of counties. Stay informed, watch the sky, and take cover if a severe thunderstorm approaches you.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Means that a severe thunderstorm has been detected by radar, or by a trained spotter. Take cover if you are near the severe thunderstorm.

Flash Flood Watch: Issued when heavy rain may develop and result in flash flooding in or near the watch area.

Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding in the warning area has developed or is imminent. Move to higher ground at once!

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory: Local flooding of small streams, streets, or low lying areas such as railroad underpasses is occurring or is imminent.

Hazardous  Weather Outlook: A product issued by local Weather Forecast Offices to discuss the significant weather of the day. For spotters and Emergency Managers this product will detail the type of severe weather expected, timing and expected location of the severe weather.

Siren Testing

Warning sirens are tested on the first Monday of each month starting in May and continuing through the summer months. 
Note:  Warning sirens WILL NOT be tested if threatening weather is present.