'We err on the side of caution'
Severe weather sirens sounded in Carroll despite no imminent tornado threat
May 9, 2014
One full rainbow — and part of a second rainbow — span a section of County Road E19 in western Greene County following a storm that had the potential to produce a tornado Thursday about 5 p.m. The brunt of the storm passed south and east of Carroll, and tornado sirens sounded in Carroll, Glidden, Ralston and Scranton. The dark area visible in the photograph is a column of significant rain falling on the road.
The skies were relatively clear in Carroll Thursday afternoon when the town's 12 severe weather sirens sounded, which generally warns residents to immediately take shelter from a tornado.
But there was no tornado in Carroll, and none were confirmed in the area despite a tornado warning the National Weather Service issued before 5 p.m.
Towns south and east of Carroll took the brunt of the storms. Quarter-sized hail was reported southwest of Willey about 4:45 p.m., and weather service radar indicated several spots near Willey and Glidden where swirling, gusty winds formed tight rotations that began to descend toward the ground and had the potential to produce a tornado, said Kurt Kotenberg, a weather service meteorologist based in Johnston.
"We had indicators that the tornado could form at any minute," he said. "There are no reports yet of funnel clouds, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. It's kind of like when a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to see it."
Rainfall in the area ranged from reports of 0.02 inch in Denison to 0.23 inch in Carroll to 0.83 inch in Rockwell City, he said.
Jason Hoffman, the communications supervisor for Carroll County's emergency communications center, said dispatchers followed protocol Thursday in sounding Carroll's sirens. Sirens also sounded in Glidden and Ralston, he said.
"The warned area was near Carroll," Hoffman said. "Even though it wasn't touching the city limits, being that it was so close the sirens are going to be activated.
"We're always going to be erring on the side of caution."
The decision to sound the sirens was made jointly by dispatchers and Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler, who talked by phone as Cayler had just arrived home about 5 p.m.
"They had just received notice that there was tornadic activity," Cayler said. "I gave permission. With a tornado, you always assume it's going to go on a straight path, but that's not always the case. It could turn back.
"I know it was fairly light and it didn't look terrible here, but this is one of the deals where we'd rather be safe than sorry."
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