Let’s hope public safety officials continue being judicious about the use of severe weather warning sirens

June 17, 2010: the mildly ominous sky that triggered storm sirens Jessica Paxton and Ross Currier, unhappy that the Taste got shut down

Two years ago on Day 1 of the Taste of Northfield, local public safety officials triggered sirens for a storm that was 60 miles away and never arrived, effectively shutting down the event for no good reason and making Jessica and Ross very unhappy. Day 2/Friday night was spectacular.

Today, severe weather is a distinct possibility and this year, Taste of Northfield is only one day, not two. (Tomorrow’s forecast looks perfect for outdoor events.) So a lot is riding on today’s weather. 

I think there have been 4 or more severe thunderstorms warnings issued by the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities (NWS) for the Northfield area this year (anyone have links to confirm?) and I’m pretty sure all have proved to be a bust. Maybe a lightning strike or two but nothing close to severe. 

Thankfully, local public safety officials who have their finger on the sirens have not pulled the trigger on any of those non-severe storms. And hopefully today, they’ll be likewise judicious.

Storm sirens: deployed too quickly?

400px-Tornado_siren,_Pesotum_2 Last night’s storms by-passed Northfield once again. (The boys of KYMN joke that we’re protected by a high-pressure bubble whenever storms head our way.) When the sirens went off at about 5:30 pm, many people on Bridge Square for the Taste of Northfield headed for shelter in nearby stores or the Armory.

But just as many looked at the sky and could tell that nothing was imminent and just hung around and socialized. People like me. The tornado sirens ended after about 5 minutes, we got a few drops of rain, and that was it.

I don’t understand the decision-making process and the chain of command for when local sirens are deployed.  There’s no information about it on the City of Northfield’s emergency information page.

But it seems to me that the sirens too often are deployed too quickly, thereby teaching the public to not take them seriously because 99 times out of a hundred, nothing severe happens.

Or am I wrong?

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