The Air Raid Siren So Powerful It Could Induce Rain


The Chrysler Air Raid Siren was the size of a car. It measured 12 feet long and 6 feet high and was powered by a 180 horsepower 8-cylinder gasoline engine that drove a 2-stage air compressor and a rotary chopper. The compressed air exited through six giant horns with a velocity of 400 mph, resulting in an incredibly loud sound of 138 decibels that was measured 100 feet from the siren. The loudness of the siren remains unmatched by any warning device ever produced. In fact, the Chrysler Air Raid Siren was so powerful it could start fires with only sound vibrations, and could turn fog into rain. The main objective of the siren was to alert the public in the most jarring and attention-grabbing way in the event of a nuclear attack by the Soviets during the Cold War. A few hundred of the monstrous Cold War sirens were produced and sold during the 1950's, but they were quickly retired because their eardrum-shattering sound left people dazed and nauseated. In addition, they were harmful to animals and birds. The only two remaining sirens — which are not in use — are in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, and atop the Rochester Fire Department in Rochester, New York.