I received an e-mail from Sue Bailey in St. Paul, expressing confusion over when the sirens are supposed to sound in Washington County. Yes, the criteria varies from county to county in the metro. So I asked local expert, Todd Krause, at the Twin Cities National Weather Service.
"Five of the seven counties have agreed on the same criteria: tornado warnings or 70+ mph wind. The sixth county, Anoka, activates only for tornado warnings, and the seventh, Dakota, activates for all tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings."
Bottom line: there is considerable discretion from county to county on when to blow the sirens. Local Civil Defense activates the sirens, not the National Weather Service or local meteorologists.
But as I've said (ad nauseum) over the years - if you rely entirely on sirens (which were designed for outdoor use only) you're putting your family at risk. The more sources of warning information, the better.
It will be too cool and stable for raging storms this week; a flashback of mid-April with highs in the 50s & scrappy clouds. Once again a storm stalls out east, keeping us in a dry, cool, Canadian flow into late week. Showers pop up Thursday but this week looks mostly dry.
Spring comes bouncing back next week with 70s, even a few 80s and scattered T-storms. Will it hold for Memorial Day?
Light a candle.
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* EF-1 tornadoes just hit metro Omaha. Details from WOWT-TV.
More Jaw-Dropping Extremes across the USA:
Video and story courtesy of wildfiretoday.com.
BUILDING HIGH PRESSURE WILL BRING RECORD OR NEAR RECORD HEAT TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY. TEMPERATURES WILL WARM TO ABOVE NORMAL TODAY THEN CONTINUE TO RISE TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY UNDER MOSTLY SUNNY SKIES. PERIODS OF OFFSHORE WINDS WILL ALLOW WARM TO HOT TEMPERATURES TO REACH ALL THE WAY TO THE COAST. PERSONS SENSITIVE TO HEAT SUCH AS THE ELDERLY AND THOSE ON CERTAIN MEDICATIONS SHOULD PLAN ACCORDINGLY AND PUT A PLAN IN PLACE NOW TO PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING HOT WEATHER. SOME COOLING MAY OCCUR NEAR THE COAST BY THURSDAY WHILE HOT WEATHER CONTINUES INLAND. MORE COOLING IS FORECAST FOR ALL LOCATIONS BY FRIDAY.
Ask Paul. Weather-related questions, comments and threats:
I had a quick question - I was looking at radar images of the storms that moved through the central part of the country Sunday night. The returns showed echo tops at 70,000 feet, and another at 69,000 feet! How common is it to see storms that reach that high? As a pilot, I pretty regularly keep up with radar and I had never seen tops that high before. I've attached a screenshot of the radar returns.
My co-workers and I have been discussing the activation of sirens and what they mean. I talked to the Chief of Police in St. Paul Park, and was told that Washington County only activates the sirens when there is a tornado. Some of us believe that sirens are now activated during a severe thunderstorm warning as well. Can you please provide us with the criteria for the counties in the metro area. I heard two types of sirens on Wednesday night, the first siren activated started low and went to high and stayed high, an hour later, the siren went from low to high several times before it stopped. Any guidance you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Saint Paul, MN
Sue, I am just as confused as you are. The truth: criteria for sounding the sirens varies from county to county, and it's at the discretion of the local Civil Defense authorities who are the ones actually activating the sirens. In a perfect world it would be the same, all across the 7-county metropolitan area. But different communities have different thresholds for alerting their residents, as described below:
Five of the seven counties have agreed on the same criteria: tornado warnings or 70+ mph wind. The sixth county (Anoka) activates only for tornado warnings, and the seventh (Dakota) activates for all tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings. Most of them (including Dakota) look at the polygons to decide where sirens should be activated. I hope this helps.
Todd Krause, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Twin Cities National Weather Service
- Are you indoors? Go to the lowest floor, to a small, center interior room, under a stairwell or to an interior hallway with no windows.Crouch down as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your arms. Cover yourself with a blanket, mattress, helmet or other thick covering. Wear footwear with thick soles to your safe location.
- Are you in a mobile home? Get out. Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as a sturdy building. Go to a nearby permanent structure..."
File photo: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon.
Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans as Antarctic Ice Melts. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this report, highlighted in Nature, has many climate scientists more alarmed than I've seen them in a long time. Justin Gillis at The New York Times has a good summary; here's an excerpt: "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis..."
Graphic credit above: " Credit NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.
5 Stages of Climate Denial. Thanks to Shauna Theel for passing this one along.