Preble County Sheriff explains tornado sirens following funnel clouds

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PREBLE COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Many Preble County residents reported seeing funnel clouds Tuesday evening, which the Sheriff said prompted tornado sirens, even though there was not a warning.

The National Weather Service told 2NEWS, tornado sirens are the jurisdiction’s discretion, they have no control over it.

Preble County Sheriff, Mike Simpson, said with the amount of reports he was getting and knowing people are on edge following the Memorial Day tornado outbreak, he would rather be safe than sorry.

Simpson said they follow three guidelines to make their decision on setting off tornado alarms: if they get notice from the NWS about a warning, a credible sighting from public safety personnel, or multiple calls from citizens.

Yesterday, they met two of them.

“Dispatch got inundated with calls on these issues asking number one, why were the sirens going off, and number two, reporting sightings of these clouds, these funnels, that were coming down and then going back up,” said Simpson.

The alarms were going off because both a deputy and fire chief had already separately reported a funnel cloud just west of Eaton.

“I informed dispatch to set off the sirens for Eaton, which culminated in a request from West Alexandria police to set off the alarms in West Alexandria,” said Simpson.

He added that they sounded the alarms because they always would rather err on the side of caution, and the amount of storms and tornadic activity in the outlying areas has people on high alert.

Mike Coe agreed.

He said his wife heard the alarms first, and was rather concerned.

There was no tornado, but Coe appreciates the sheriff’s office’s decision.

“With the horns going off, even without the alerts that we normally get on our cell phones and TVs, it at least got our attention and got us thinking about a potential concern,” said Coe.

The National Weather Service said these types of funnel clouds can develop suddenly from showers and thunderstorms, and are usually thin with a needle or rope-like appearance.

They rarely touch the ground and are unlikely to cause significant damage if they do.

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