How to be Alerted to Severe Weather

Some residents in Knox County have indicated that they are unsure of how to get severe weather alerts after the storms that tore through the county last week.

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms can develop quickly, so an important component of a severe weather plan is a reliable warning system.  Warnings are disseminated through local television and radio stations, cable television systems, cell phone apps, and NOAA weather radio, and outdoor warning sirens.  “Facebook should never be the primary source of impending weather notifications,” said Mark Maxwell, Knox County EMA Director, “People living in Knox County should get their alerts directly from the National Weather Service and there are a number of ways to do this.” Knox County Emergency Management Agency typically shares information about upcoming significant weather events, but this is done to spread awareness and the information may not be immediate.

The most significant weather events that often trigger emergency alerts through mobile phones in Ohio are tornado warnings and flash flood warnings. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by the National Weather Service to areas they have determined to be impacted by the event. This means not everyone in a given county may be altered. There is no signup is required for this type of alert. Alerts are sent automatically to WEA-capable phones during an emergency.

Ensuring these alerts are turned on is an easy process:


Apple (iOS)

  1. Find the settings application -> tap on notifications
  2. Scroll to the bottom -> turn on Emergency Alerts if not already on


  1. Find the settings application -> tap on Apps & Notifications
  2. Find Emergency Alerts and tap to confirm these alerts are turned on


For both operating systems, when severe weather is within your current location, your mobile device will vibrate and play a loud emergency tone-based noise for your location — briefing you on the latest advisories or warnings from the National Weather Service.

Most local radio and television stations broadcast storm warnings.  Cable television systems will also have warning information, sometimes on a designated channel.  However, satellite television stations do not provide local warnings unless you are watching a local station.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations operated by local National Weather Service offices. The continuous broadcasts provide current weather warnings, forecasts, and conditions and is the best method to receive severe weather warnings. When forecasters issue warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods; special receivers sound a tone which alert people even if they’re sleeping, outdoors, watching satellite TV, don’t live near a warning siren, or the electricity is off.

A NOAA Weather Radio receiver will sound an alarm to alert you when a storm warning is issued.  It may be the only way you will learn of an impending storm; especially if you’re asleep, outdoors, or the electricity is off.  The receivers needed to receive the alarm are available at electronics stores.  Most models can operate on batteries; some are programmable to alert only for a single county or a portion of a county.  People who cannot receive a strong signal inside their building may need to use an external antenna.

People living in Knox County may also sign up for Knox Alerts. Weather related alerts are triggered by the National Weather Service’s Cleveland office when watches and warnings are issued. It is important to note that NWS may only target a portion of the county that is going to be most affected by the incident. For example, people in Fredericktown may receive different alerts than those in Centerburg or Mount Vernon.

If you are unsure what alerts you are subscribed to receive, it is best to completely unsubscribe and then re-subscribe at the link and choose everything you want to be alerted to. If you subscribe multiple times you may receive multiple alerts. It is important to only subscribe to the alerts you really want to avoid “alert fatigue”. If someone is getting to many alerts to events they are not interested in they may begin to ignore them and miss one that could really impact them.

Finally, Outdoor Warning Sirens are used throughout Knox County warn people who are outdoors. Even if a siren is nearby, they are not intended to warn persons inside their homes.  You may not be able to hear it inside your house.  When you hear sirens, do not call 911 to ask what is happening; instead, take shelter immediately and listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV for additional warning information.


If you have questions about this press release please call Emily Morrison at 740-504-3598