June 21, 2010

Tazewell Sirens Sound: False Alarm

By Eric Shangraw

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 21, 2010 at 6:17 PM CDT

Tornado sirens made for an early wake up call for a majority of Tazewell County residents Monday.

It turned out to be only a scare.

But emergency responders are not taking any chances during this season of severe weather.

Eric Shangraw explains what happened.

East Peoria Police Officer Curt Darlington is taking some ribbing from other cops about waking up Tazewell County Monday morning.

Darlington heard sirens going off in North Pekin when he looked South West towards Groveland.

"On the squaw line of the storm there were two circular really strong rotations coming out of the clouds going in a clock wise swirls. They didn't get anywhere near the ground but moving rapidly," said Darlington.

Darlington reported to dispatchers what he witnessed.

"He called the dispatch center today. Told them that he saw that. They followed the protocol to the tee and set off the sirens," said
East Peoria Fire Chief Bill Darin.

Morton sounded its alarms after hearing the East Peoria radio traffic.

At least two Pekin police officers had earlier reported seeing funnel clouds. Sirens went off in Pekin, Green Valley and Marquette Heights at 5:20.

All false alarms. But emergency communication officials say better safe than sorry.

"If we second guessed something like that and something would happen and we didn't set them off, where would we be? Either ethically or morally. So it is best to error on the side of warning people," said Tazewell/Pekin Consolidated Communications Center Director Steven Thompson.

The National Weather Service says the chances for severe weather are not going away soon.

"At least in the near term it does look like we are going to stay fairly active and fairly warm and humid. Long range outlooks for the later part of the summer are to be a little bit closer to normal or even a little bit coolish. But we will have to see how that goes," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Patrick Bak.

In the meantime, police, firefighters and weather spotters are staying alert with an eye to the sky on the first day of summer.

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