STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – Officials in the eastern part of the Twin Cities metro are counting their blessings Monday that there were no major reports of damage in Washington County due to severe weather.
That’s because despite a tornado warning being issued for Washington County at 2:45 p.m. Sunday for northwestern Washington County, sirens didn’t sound. Officials said activated the sirens at 2:48 p.m.
Less than 10 minutes later, first responders were reporting that the sirens were not on in some areas but were in others. Officials said they implemented the county’s backup system at that time, which also failed.
The National Weather Service issued a second tornado warning for Washington County at 3:10 p.m. while officials tried to fix the siren issue. By 3:23 p.m., all sirens were working properly, but the severe weather had already cleared the area.
Officials said Monday the sirens failed due to an equipment failure to the power supply in the county where signals are transmitted to the sirens. Equipment was back online by 6:30 p.m. The same equipment had its monthly test on May 4, and it was working properly at the time.
Washington County officials urged their citizens to not just rely on sirens in the case of severe weather. They stressed it’s also important to listen to local radio and sign up for online services that send text alerts and emails in the case of severe weather.
Two people died as a result of the tornado that struck north Minneapolis Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of homes suffered significant damage, dozens of people were injured and families throughout the city lost everything they had.