Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Hazard Information




Severe thunderstorms are officially defined as storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger or wind gusts over 58 mph. Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs and vehicles. Wind this strong is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage to trees. Some severe thunderstorms can produce hail larger than softballs or winds over 100 mph, so please pay attention to the weather so you know when severe storms are possible. Thunderstorms also produce tornadoes and dangerous lightning; heavy rain can cause flash flooding. 

Storm Ready

Newaygo County has been StormReady since 2014!

The StormReady program helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property–before, during and after the event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs. StormReady uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of extreme weather—from tornadoes to winter storms. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. Applying is easy. To be officially StormReady, a community must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Understand Severe Weather Alerts

Do you know the difference between a National Weather Service Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning? Check your knowledge below.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared! Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.


Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action! Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a large hail or damaging wind identified by an NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

For additional information, please visit the US National Weather Service page at

Tornado Sirens

As a reminder, Tornado Sirens are tested once a month on the first Monday of the month at 7pm April through October. If a holiday falls on the first Monday, sirens will be tested the following Monday. Sirens are located in the City of Fremont, City of Newaygo, City of Grant, Village of Hesperia, Big Prairie, Croton, and Bitely.

Please remember:

*Tornado Sirens are only sounded when a Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service. 
*Tornado Sirens will NOT sound for a Severe Thunderstorms with damaging winds (straight line winds or down bursts) 
*Tornado Sirens are activated manually and can take up to 5 minutes to set off after a Tornado Warning has been issued. 
*Tornado Sirens are designed to ONLY notify an outdoor population of a tornado
*Tornado Sirens are difficult to hear indoors during a storm
*Tornado Sirens can only be heard for 1 – 2 miles around the siren
*Tornado Sirens can not give you specific information about the incoming Tornado.

Newaygo County uses multiple methods to disseminate emergency information in order to target the largest number of people possible. It is up to you to choose which notification method(s) work best for you to receive the emergency information.

If you have a text enabled Cell Phone, Newaygo ES recommends signing up for Nixle.

*Nixle is a FREE comprehensive warning system designed for rapid dissemination of alerts and public information to a variety of public mechanisms.

*Alerts and emergency information are received via text, email, web, and social media in real time for localized emergency situations relevant to the community. *Anyone can view information through the Nixle Website without registering to receive alerts at

To register for NIXLE ALERTS

  1. Text your Zip Code or NEWAYGOES to 888777 from your mobile phone
  2. Sign up and create a user profile at
  3. Use the Registration Widget on the County of Newaygo’s Website at

If you do not have text or Internet capabilities, Newaygo County Emergency Services encourages the use of NOAA Weather Radios.

NOAA Weather Radios 
*Are designed for All-Hazards Warning and can be modified to alert those with special needs including deaf and hard of hearing, blind, etc. 
*Are programmed to notify you of hazards within your area including tornados, severe thunderstorms, straight-line winds, downbursts, hail, hazardous materials spills, floods, etc. 
*Will give you specific information about the storm and emergency protective measures you should take.
*Are set off automatically through local NOAA Weather Radio Towers when a warning is issued. Notifications occur within seconds of the warning.
*Are battery operated and will work when there is no power. Some models are handheld while others are also an AM/FM radio and alarm clock. 
*On average, cost $20.00 per unit. Units are no more expensive to maintain than smoke detectors.