UPDATED July 7, 2020:

Williamsburg Sirens

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Do You Know The Difference?

In the City of Williamsburg, citizens, visitors and students may experience a siren test and/or an actual emergency activation during their stay.  It is imperative that everyone knows what siren is activated and why.

There are two different types of sirens in the city:  The Surry Power Station siren and The College of William & Mary siren.  Below is a description of each and links to additional information.

Surry Power Station Siren

Surry Power Station generates 1,676 megawatts of electric power from its two nuclear reactors — enough electricity to power about 420,000 homes. Unit 1 began commercial operation in December 1972 and Unit 2 began operating in May 1973. Surry was Dominion's first nuclear station. It is situated in Surry County in southeastern Virginia, on the south bank of the James River across from historic Jamestown.

Should a nuclear incident occur, state health officials would monitor levels and advise the public of any necessary protective actions.  In addition to listening for local, up-to-date emergency information on radio and TV stations, emergency officials have installed early warning sirens throughout the 10-mile area surrounding the power station.  These sirens alert the public in the event of a General Emergency at the Power Station.  Dominion tests these sirens on a quarterly basis and announces the test through local media.

For an actual emergency, the sirens will sound over a period of 15 minutes.  The signal will be a series of four three-minute siren tones with a minute of silence between them.  When the siren sounds, find a local radio or TV station that is broadcasting emergency information and listen for instructions. 

For additional information about the Surry Power Station visit here.  For additional information on what do during a siren activation visit

This is what the Surry Power Station sounds like:


The College of William & Mary Siren

The university has a number of ways to communicate to the campus community during an emergency situation.

The university has three emergency sirens that are stationed on top of the Integrated Science Center, the School of Education building and the Law School. The sirens are 120-decibels. When you hear the siren, it means two things – seek shelter and seek information.

The university's emergency notification system is linked with the William & Mary News Facebook page and the William & Mary News Twitter page. In the event of an emergency, messages will also be posted on these social media sites. All members of the general public are invited to follow these pages to stay informed about news involving the university.

For additional information regarding William & Mary's siren visit the university's Stay Informed page.

Visit William & Mary's website has an audio sample of their sirens.  Click to hear the W&M Siren.