Dane County's emergency notification consists of multiple components. We recognize that no one application can provide warning to all citizens. As a result, we take a systematic approach, understanding the advantages and limitations of each component. Information on options available to you can be found under the "Notification System" drop down at the top of this page.
Typically, the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing all severe weather alerts. The National Weather Service, when issuing severe weather alerts, uses the terms “Watch” and “Warning.” Knowing the difference between a “Watch” and a “Warning” is very important.
When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, the National Weather Service will issue a “Watch.” When a severe weather watch is issued, you should be alert for changes in the weather and be prepared to act quickly.
Take a Watch seriously. Even though severe weather may not be imminent, watches are issued to give you a heads-up that conditions may be changing. Be aware of your surroundings. A watch being issued is also a good reminder to check on warning devices to assure they are working properly.
National Weather Service meteorologists use information from weather radar as well as a network of trained spotters to issue severe weather warnings. A “Warning” means that severe weather is actually occurring or is imminent. For example, a Tornado Warning means that the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar is detecting wind circulation that could produce a tornado. Tornado Warnings are also issued if trained spotters have actually sighted a tornado or specific indicators of a tornado. You should take immediate steps to protect yourself when a “Warning” of any type is issued.
Following significant storm events, people often report that the storm hit “with no warning.” This is tragic, but it is only very rarely true. Major storm events are usually preceded by a Watch issued hours in advance, and a Warning issued when dangerous weather is imminent. Advance warning time is available, if people receive the information and take appropriate action.
The warning system can only be effective if you actually receive the information. There are a great deal of warning devices and methods available to you. We recommend that you take advantage of as many of them as possible. No single warning method is perfect and no warning method can be guaranteed never to fail.
Have a back-up! By relying on one single method, such as the sounding of the outdoor warning sirens or the receiving of information solely from broadcast meteorologists, you risk missing a warning if that system fails. By taking a systematic approach and getting information from more than one source, you are much more likely to receive the warning, even if there is a failure in one of the components.
We strongly recommend that you consider the following:
Please contact Dane County Emergency Management if you have any questions about the County's notification system or would like additional information on available options.