Officials are warning residents that tornado warning sirens are a sign to seek shelter, but do not signal when the warning is over.
As a storm complete with tornado warnings raged near Randall, July 17, Randall City Administrator Matt Pantzke said there had been confusion from residents about bad weather continuing even after the sirens had ended.
Morrison County Emergency Management Officer Victoria Ingram said the sirens are meant to warn people when the conditions for a tornado are detected.
“It’s to give people that time to get indoors so they can seek shelter and then get additional information by tuning into local media,” Ingram said.
Even if the weather at the time is not threatening, Ingram said the sirens may still be activated to let people know that might not be the case for long.
“Even though on a day there may be nice sunny weather here in Little Falls, there may be a storm five miles away with a tornado that has touched down or developing,” Ingram said.
The point of the warning system is to give people who are outside ample time to get inside, or at least into shelter, and begin following the tornado warning through the television, radio or Internet, Ingram said.
The siren is set to blare for three minutes. There is no all-clear siren, Ingram said.
The notice to the county to turn on the sirens comes from the National Weather Service, which tracks storms via radar, or from people like local law enforcement, who are trained to spot developing tornadoes.
The only times other than actual emergencies that the sirens will go off, Ingram said, are for monthly tests on the first Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m., and during Severe Weather Awareness Week in April.
If a warning is issued, people should seek shelter in a basement or room with no windows. If on the road, and there is no building to take shelter in, they should get out of their car and get to a low lying area to avoid debris, but stay aware of potential flooding if in a ditch, Ingram said.
Ingram said there are a host of smartphone apps users can get for weather information, including storm warnings.
Residents can also sign up for emergency notifications on their phones or email through Morrison County’s emergency alert system, at www.co.morrison.mn.us.