Last night, Farmington experienced some severe weather. According to the National Weather service, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for the area north of Farmington at 12:25am. At the time the warning was issued, the storms approaching Farmington were weaker than those to the north. At 12:40am, those weaker storms intensified rapidly, resulting in a strong downburst (straight line winds). The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for our area at 12:43am. Chief Lindquist spoke with several people today that experienced damage and they all indicated that the storm and damage occurred very quickly.
Several residents have asked why the Civil Defense Sirens did not sound. The answer to that is two-fold. Several years ago, Dakota County changed their policy of activating the sirens for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. Instead, the sirens are activated only for Tornado Warnings or storms currently producing damage. Last night, by the time officers responded to calls of damage, the storm had passed and the danger had subsided. Had this been a slow moving storm with ongoing damage, the sirens would have sounded.
One additional important note. The outdoor Civil Defense Sirens are designed and intended to alert people that are outside. They are not, and never have been, intended to alert people inside a building. If you can hear them inside, that is a bonus. But we would recommend not relying on that. There are numerous apps available for iPhone and Android devices that will give you warnings in real time; a couple of them are from local TV stations. If you don’t have a smart phone or tablet, another option is a weather radio that will alert you to current warnings.
As always, our goal is to keep you safe. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Farmington Police Department or the National Weather Service.