EMA: Funnel cloud wasn’t dangerous enough to warrant tornado warning

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) – For the second time in four days, a funnel cloud appeared over Central Indiana, but some people near them didn’t get any sort of warning.

The most recent happened yesterday evening in Howard County just east of Kokomo, but no sirens or alerts were activated.

Last Thursday, some people in Anderson didn’t hear tornado sirens because city officials said the storm was already headed away from town.

According to the Howard County Emergency Management Agency, storm spotters, and the National Weather Service there was no concern. However, the fact that the funnel suddenly appeared without warning had people worried.

The EMA director said although the funnel was forming it remained far above the ground and disappeared within a few minutes. Although storm spotters saw the funnel, the National Weather Service says there wasn’t enough rotation on the radar and the environment didn’t have the right ingredients to form an actual tornado.

“And the only thing they really had was the spotters. They did go back, they looked at the radar. There was a thunderstorm but it was here and it was gone,” said director Janice Hart. She said spotters were dispatched around the county after calls started coming in, but most of them didn’t even catch it in time.

“There just was no signatures, nothing on radar to indicate that there would be a funnel out there. But (funnel clouds) do pop up,” she said.

Ron Julius has had his eyes to the sky for more than 20 years and was one of several trained storm spotters dispatched around Howard County Sunday.

“When you look at last night, what blew up last night blew up very, very quickly,” he said. “Actually kind of caught us all by surprise.”

Julius said trained spotters in some rural parts of the county actually have the power to sound the sirens if they feel the community is in imminent danger. They can do so without waiting for a tornado warning from the National Weather Service.

But Sunday night, the sirens and countywide text alerts weren’t activated.

“Last night the Town Marshal in Greentown made that decision based up the conditions and reporting from NWS not to push that button. And it was the right decision,” Julius said.

24-Hour News 8 asked Julius if he understood the concern some homeowners had after seeing a funnel in the sky without being warned it was forming.

“Absolutely. You don’t want to warn the public when there’s nothing there to be warned about. Because you end up getting people very excited about something that’s not going to happen and didn’t happen,” he said.

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