SAVAGE, Minn. (WCCO) — Families are still cleaning up from last week’s deadly storms that dropped at least four tornados on Minnesota.
The powerful winds toppled several large trees and the worst of it hit around 3 a.m.. In at least three Twin Cities suburbs, the tornado sirens never sounded.
“I was surprised there was no sirens, the sirens are just a block away too,” said Jason Haertel-Strehlow, a resident of Savage.
It’s a statement echoed by many residents and something Savage City Administrator Brad Larson has been hearing a lot.
“The city doesn’t control when the emergency sirens go off, they’re controlled by the county,” Larson said.
Larson explained the county will activate sirens for multiple reasons, including confirmed sightings, high winds and large hail or if the National Weather Service detects a tornado on the radar.
“In fact, the way National Weather Service decided it was a tornado is whenever a storm goes through and there’s a report of damage, they go back and look at radar imagery and they correlate that with damage on the ground. Based on those two things they would call it a tornado,” Larson said.
In Dakota County, Burnsville and Apple Valley were touched by tornados too.
Tom Folie, the executive director of the Dakota Communications Center, said it’s standard throughout the metro area to depend on reports made by the National Weather Service. However, the NWS did not detect tornadoes Friday.
National Weather Service Twin Cities Meteorologist Caleb Grunzke explained Friday’s tornados only lived for about a minute, which can easily be missed.
“They were all rated EF-0, which is the lowest it can be, I think it’s less than 80 mph on the wind scale,” Grunzke said.
The National Weather Service also relies heavily on tornado spot reports, but because the storms came in the middle of the night, Grunzke said there weren’t any sightings.
Many cities and counties offer severe weather alerts that residents can sign up for.
As far as cleanup goes, the city of Savage is hauling debris off curbsides for free. The city asks that residents not put debris in bags and call the city to report it.