There was a tornado. Why didn’t I hear a siren or get an alert?

After a tornado it’s not unusual to see people on social media asking or stating, “who got an alert?” or “I never got an alert” or “I didn’t hear an alarm siren.”

The alarm sirens that some of us remember from the Cold War era no longer exist in many areas because technology has replaced them. There are some still in operation.

So how do we get notifications for tornadoes? You have to enable them on your smart phone. For iPhone users, go to settings, then choose notifications, scroll down to the bottom and select which government alerts you want to enable – there are three choices and they are AMBER Alerts, Emergency Alerts, Public Safety Alerts. You can select all three. For other types of phones, look for your notification settings.

These work for the area where the tornado warning is and where you and your smart phone are located. If you’re not in the area where the tornado alert is active, you’re not going to receive it. In other words, if you live Edgewater/Annapolis and you’re in Baltimore, Florida or wherever you might be when the alert for the tornado warning happens, you’re not going to get that alert.

For the tornado in Edgewater/Annapolis on September 3, 2020, this was what the alert looked like –

Most every city and county also have emergency notification systems, but you have to sign up for them. Hannah Thomas, exercise, training and outreach coordinator for the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, explains all of it. She emailed the following:

“In the City of Annapolis, the Office of Emergency Management has two main ways to alert residents of any impending watches or warnings.

Alert Annapolis: 


Alert Annapolis will deliver customized general or emergency messages directly to homes, businesses, individuals’ cell phones or answering machines via text message, e-mail or phone call. This system will allow the City of Annapolis to reach Annapolitans, visitors, and employees, regardless of their location within the City, and provide actionable information.


If you previously signed up for our old system, CodeRED, you have automatically been added into the Alert Annapolis system. If you would like to update your account, please visit alertannapolis.civicready.com, enter your email, and then click ‘forgot my password’. The system will then prompt you to finish setting up your account.


To sign up for Alert Annapolis and receive messages from the City of Annapolis, please go to alertannapolis.civicready.com.

Prepare Me Annapolis Mobile Application:

Prepare Me Annapolis, which can be downloaded for free, will promptly send alerts, notifications, and other essential information straight to your, including:

  • Contact Information
  • BGE Power Outage Status
  • Preparedness Tips
  • Customizable Emergency Kit Checklist
  • School and Government Closings
  • Severe Weather Updates
  • Social Media Access
  • Shelter Information
  • Traffic Updates

Users are encouraged to enable/approve push notifications for the app in their phone settings in order to receive the timely information.

To download the free app, Prepare Me Annapolis, please visit the Apple Store and/or Google Play Store.

Statewide Notifications:

 In each one of the NWS’ 122 Weather Forecast Offices field offices, forecasters use the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), a weather forecasting data and display IT package, to create and distribute weather warnings. Once a forecaster hits “Send” on a warning, an advanced series of systems ensures that warning makes it to a number of outlets and to you.

A sampling of the services that deliver NWS warnings either directly to you, or to those that relay the warnings to you via the web, television and radio include:

  • Emergency Alert System (EAS)
  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)
  • Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS)
  • NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
  • NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS)
  • Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN)
  • Interactive Weather Information Network (IWIN)
  • NOAAPORT

Two of the most effective ways you can get warning information directly from the National Weather Service are through Wireless Emergency Alerts on your mobile phone, and on NOAA Weather Radio.”

To sign up for emergency notifications in Anne Arundel County, click HERE.

To sign up for emergency notifications in Queen Anne’s County, click HERE.

Where else can people get reliable and up-to-the-minute information for tornadoes?

The National Weather Service (NWS) on Twitter and Facebook provides it. For Annapolis/Anne Arundel County, you’ll want to pay attention to the NWS Baltimore/DC office – their Facebook can be followed HERE and their Twitter can be followed HERE. For Queen Anne’s County, you’ll want to pay attention to NWS Philadelphia/Mount Holly office – their Facebook can be followed HERE and their Twitter can be followed HERE. And NWS Tornado Twitter is HERE .

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency on Facebook is HERE and on Twitter HERE.

Hope all of this helps and stay safe!

Tornado coverage below

Night of/September 3, 2020 –

Next day/September 4, 2020 –

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