Police: Sirens were due to funnel cloudsPublished 10:54am Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Funnel clouds spotted south of Fergus Falls and ominous National Weather Service reports prompted Fergus Falls Police to sound the emergency sirens Monday evening, Captain Steve Adams said.
The sirens were fired about 9 p.m. on Monday, right after Fergus Falls Police received an NWS teletype reporting tornadic storms moving east between mile markers 50 and 70 along Interstate 94. Police also received reports from spotters of funnel clouds near the Big Chief, at about mile marker 52, and by Orwell Dam.
Funnel clouds are considered the precursor to tornadoes.
“The National Weather Service said we had lots of storm rotation in the clouds and new cells were forming like crazy,” Adams said. “It was lined up to head straight for the middle of the city.”
Over the last year, Fergus Falls Police rewrote the policy on sounding the emergency sirens. Where it previously required a set wind speed and hail size, and the potential for severe property damage or loss of life, Adams said the current policy gives officers the discretion based on NWS reports, and law enforcement and fire department spotter information.
The storm ended up moving east of Fergus Falls, and tornadoes, it appeared, did not materialize. Adams said his sergeant actually had a difficult decision to make, especially because the low light conditions made spotting funnel clouds difficult.
“When I spoke to the sergeant Monday, he told me he didn’t know if we were (in a tornado situation) or weren’t, but on the side of caution, he was going to sound the sirens,” Adams said. “Better to give a warning and don’t need it and not give a warning and wish we would.”Tags: Fergus Falls Police Department, weather