City of Red Wing

Warning sirens explained

The City of Red Wing possesses 20+ outdoor warning sirens in conjunction with Goodhue County creating a total of about 106 warning sirens within the county.  These sirens are all battery operated, continually recharging from the grid so that a power failure does not disable our ability to warn the public.  The primary reason for the great number is due to the proximity of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant and Federal requirements for public notification.  All sirens were paid for and are maintained by a subcontractor through XCEL Energy.  Placement of the sirens was developed through FEMA and sound propagation software to ensure complete coverage.  This has been a great benefit to our area.


Sirens are tested every Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. and reporting software is attached to each siren to determine functionality or detect failure to perform for any reason. I receive a monthly report from the plant and individual email reports if a siren does fail and the plan for repair.  On the first Wednesday of the month sirens are fully sounded.  On the other Wednesdays a growl test is conducted which will sound like a very short activation.  This is to ensure complete functionality at all times.  Siren heads rotate so you may hear a slight rising and falling tone as they rotate toward then away from where you are.  This is normal.

There is no difference in soundings for weather related as opposed to other emergencies.  Sounding will generally be for a three minute period which should direct you to tune to the local radio stations, KCUE 1230 AM or KWNG 105.9 FM for information.  In weather related events we DO NOT sound an all clear.  If you hear the siren again it indicates an additional weather related event and to take or remain under cover.

There is the capability of sounding individual or groups of sirens but due to our current radio infrastructure (Soon moving to 800 MHz) voice and siren paging are on one frequency.  To lessen the impact on voice traffic, dispatch sounds all county sirens for weather related events in Goodhue County, so a tornado warning in Kenyon could be accompanied by clear skies in Red Wing yet all sirens would sound.  We hope to change that in the near future when the 800 MHz system goes online so as to allow for more localized warnings.

Roger Hand | Emergency Management Director
Administration Department
City of Red Wing
430 West 6th Street | Red Wing, MN  55066
Tel: 651-267-2611 - Cell 651-764-3302