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Who sounds the sirens in Faribault County?

By Staff | Jul 6, 2009

After a series of storms rumbled through Faribault County in the past weeks, residents were heard asking who is in charge of sounding the tornado sirens.

“We are,” says County Sheriff Mike Gormley. “We can sound the siren in any town in the county, from our office.”

Actually, local authorities in each community can also activate their own siren, but that is rarely done, Gormley says.

There is a set procedure for sounding the sirens, Gormley explains.

“Terry Campbell is our civil defense director,” Gormley says. “He has weather spotters who go out to certain locations to look for funnel and wall clouds.”

If the spotters see something threatening, they radio in and the tornado siren is sounded. The spotters include local law enforcement personnel as well as volunteer firemen.

Of course, if the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for the county, all of the sirens are set off, Gormley says.

The sirens mean a warning is issued, Gormley says, and residents should seek shelter and preferably head to their basement.

The sirens are not set off a second time as an all-clear. Citizens should check the radio and telev-ision if they hear a siren, after they get to a safe location.

“We used to do an all-clear many years ago, but it got too confusing so we quit that practice,” the sheriff says. If a siren goes off more than once, it means another system has been spotted.

Gormley says one problem the spotters have is with people getting in their way.

“We have members of the public who follow our spotters to try and see where the tornado might be,” Gormley says. “It is sometimes a real concern. People should stay home and be safe.”

The spotters are important, the sheriff says, because the county is located right on the edge of national doppler radar systems.

“We often see a system capable of tornado action before the radar does,” Gormley says. “We will sound a siren if the threat is there, even if it is still a ways off.”