Tornado sirens spark concerns from area residents

Correction: An earlier version of this story had Shannan Hinton’s title incorrect. She is director of emergency management in Bartholomew County.

Authorities are looking into why Bartholomew County’s Everbridge e-alert system did not sound yesterday when tornado sirens were activated. A rare cold air funnel was sighted in the northern part of the county, but there was no tornado.

Shannan Hinton, director of Bartholomew County Emergency Management, ┬ásaid that multiple spotters reported the funnel and alerted dispatchers who, according to policy, sounded the tornado sirens. However, while tornado sirens activated, the county’s Everbridge e-alert system did not send messages or phone calls to residents, leading to some confusion in the community.

Hinton said county emergency officials are investigating why the Everbridge system was not activated.

The National Weather Service did not issue any tornado warnings or watches which would have prompted an automatic Everbridge alert and alerts over our radio stations. The weather service in Indianapolis did send out an alert explaining the likelihood of the cold air funnel phenomenon but that was after the Bartholomew County sirens had already been activated.

According to the weather service, cold air funnels are associated with thunderstorms or showers that form in deep, cold core, large-scale low pressure systems. Officials say these funnel clouds normally protrude a few hundred feet downward from the parent clouds, rotate and last only a few minutes before dissipating.

In rare cases when their circulations does reach the ground, cold air funnels cause only minor damage.

The National Weather Service message from yesterday morning:

National Weather Service Indianapolis IN
1148 AM EDT Tue Jul 30 2019

…COLD AIR FUNNELS POSSIBLE TODAY…

Generally funnel clouds develop and occur in conjunction with conditions that produce severe thunderstorms.

An entirely different conditions prevails across Central Indiana today. There is little potential for severe thunderstorms.

Research studies of funnel cloud occurrences indicate that a different type of funnel cloud forms when weather conditions are similar to those of today. these are called cold air funnels and are not as violent as those associated with warm and humid conditions.

Cold air funnels are associated with thunderstorms or showers that form in deep…cold core…large-scale low pressure systems. These funnel clouds are smooth and narrow. The parent storm or shower is not particularly tall or intense. These funnel clouds normally protrude a few hundred feet downward from the parent clouds…rotate or spin like a top…and last only a few minutes before dissipating.

In rare cases when their circulations does reach the ground…
cold air funnels cause only minor damage. More reports of small funnel clouds are possible over Central Indiana today. Warnings will be issued if any of them touch the ground.