Tornado sirens and strong winds worry Winnebago County residents - – Rockford’s News Leader

Tornado sirens and strong winds worry Winnebago County residents


Sunday night's storms leave fallen tree branches and debris for many people in Winnebago County to pick up.

When the storm passed, Jeanetta Lawyer and her daughter Samantha went to survey the damage. Their pool was blown out onto Meridian Road. Wind uprooted a large tree on the north end of the property. But the most startling find was seeing their horse barn in a heap.

"When we were looking for the pool, we found barn wood,  my mom ran over to check the barn and realized it was down and she just started screaming looking for the horses," says Samantha.

They searched for the two animals as tornado sirens blared throughout the entire county,  even through there was no tornado warning, only a watch.  So people who heard the sirens wonder, who sounded the alarm?

"It's up to each community or county what the siren policy is. in most communities it will be  based on either a national weather service warning issued for the area or a actual confirmed sighting," says Jim Allsopp,  a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

That sighting came from Davis firefighters, in Stephenson County.  They called in what they thought was a tornado.  Emergency dispatchers relayed that message to Winnebago County.

Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers says, "If we had not set off the sirens, we'd be rescinding our duty. That's an ideal time when we ought to be doing that because I don't know that there wasn't a tornado. I just know the damage was more consistent with straight line winds. But we very could have had one that dropped down out of the clouds and went back up quick."

Both horses were found safe in the far corner of a pasture, the barn however, is a total loss.  Samantha and Jeanetta are grateful no one was hurt. They're going to have to
rebuild, but may not have the money to do it.

"[The horses] lost everything, their food, their shelter, and just restarting would be horrible because we don't even know where to start."

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