Sturgeon Bay Removes Tornado, Fire Sirens

The City of Sturgeon Bay deactivated its tornado warning sirens in December 2020 and, this spring, intends to remove and not replace them.

The six outdoor sirens were strategically placed around the city for optimal coverage about 24 years ago. They were sounded only to alert people who were outside to move inside to a safe location when the National Weather Service notified dispatch of a tornado threat. 

Now the high cost to maintain the sirens and new information about effectiveness and technological advancements have caused the drawbacks to outweigh the benefits.

The tornado sirens are funded through taxpayer money. They have a 25-year life cycle and will need to be replaced in 2022 at an estimated cost of $25,000 each.

“We are nostalgic for the sound of the siren test at 12 noon on the first of every month, but we are optimistic about the opportunity to free up resources to support our city in other ways by eliminating obsolete equipment,” said Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Dietman.

The siren test was really the only time residents heard the sirens. The most recent tornado that touched ground near Sturgeon Bay was a Level 2 tornado at Sand Bay in 1985. 

Tornado-forecasting technology has improved dramatically during the past three decades with the availability of Doppler weather radar, and personal technology to access weather information has also advanced considerably, allowing residents to have weather reports and notifications as close as their smartphones.

People can also get severe-weather notifications by purchasing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association weather radio, watching news coverage and paying attention to the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Alert System on radio and TV broadcasts.

Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 12-16, and Dietman encouraged people to make plans to keep themselves safe. Visit for information about tornadoes and developing a plan for what to do in the event of one.

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