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Bolingbrook Explains Lack of Tornado Sirens After June 30 Storm

Officials explain why outdoor warning sirens weren't activated during storms that brought a tornado to nearby Plainfield, Romeoville.

Screenshot from www.facebook.com/nrnilstormchaser showing the June 30 tornado's path.
Screenshot from www.facebook.com/nrnilstormchaser showing the June 30 tornado's path.
The Village of Bolingbrook issued a response to residents late last week, following a June 30 storm that produced several tornadoes in northern Illinois — including an EF-1 twister that touched down in nearby Romeoville and Plainfield.


Some residents questioned the decision not to activate the village's emergency sirens.

"Members of the Bolingbrook Fire Department are trained in emergency situations and follow a detailed severe weather protocol," the village said in a notice posted to its website.  "Be assured that the Village of Bolingbrook would never put residents in harm’s way without warning."

According to the notice, during the storm, Bolingbrook's on-duty battalion chief was monitoring radio frequencies, along with live Doppler radar maps and several emergency weather channels. The fire department's C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) weather spotters were also activated.

"The decision to not activate the Outdoor Warning Sirens was based on scientific data received from the weather reports that were provided to our Department, as well as the surrounding community’s decision not to activate their sirens (Plainfield and Naperville)," the village said. "Romeoville activated their sirens due to confirmed information received from their weather spotters. Romeoville’s activation was not received in the Bolingbrook Dispatch Center until after the event had passed through their community."

The response also noted that outdoor warning sirens are intended to warn people who are outside to seek shelter.

"It is always a good idea to monitor the radio, television, and have a severe weather radio for your home to advise you of any type of warnings," the village's response continued. 

According to the village, the decision to activate the sirens is at the discretion of on-duty village emergency personnel and is based on considerations including confirmation of a funnel cloud by a trained weather spotter, damaging winds with structural damage and receiving a warning from the National Weather Service.

Read the full response here.

Residents in nearby Plainfield also criticized the decision not to sound the warning sirens. A Plainfield police commander who was on duty at the time of the storms told Patch that weather spotters did not see any indications of rotation, and the damage seen during and after the storms was consistent with straight-line winds, not a tornado. At a July 7 village board meeting, Plaifield Cmdr. Anthony Novak said police have asked the Will County Emergency Management Agency to review Plainfield's storm spotter program, as well as its preparation and response to the June 30 storms.

What do you think? Should Bolingbrook's sirens have been activated?

Jason Wydra July 11, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Piss poor explanation from Bolingbrook officials..... Unacceptable. Do they think that everyone is in a house at 10PM at night when this tornado hit Romeoville? DUH!!!!! The fact that NWS and local Chicago news channels indicated rotation in the area is all Bolingbrook needed to turn on the switch.... THEY FAILED!!! PERIOD!!! Comcast broke into reqular prgramming and activated their EAS system with the tornado warning for Northwest Will County... Brant Miller from NBC5 Chicago broke in shortly after and showed the radar images. He pointed DIRECTLY at Bolingbrook as the original of cloud rotation!!!!!!!! People who defend the village claiming we should have "common sense" in order to save ourselves, are out of line. We pay taxes for these sirens, not everyone has a fancy life sucking smartphone, not everyone has a weather radio, not everyone has a generator for when the power goes out. To NOT sound the alarms during a tornado is flat out incompetence displayed by the Fire Batallion Chief.... An apology and a "we will do better next time" would have been nice. I'm tired of government officials refusing to be accountable for an obvious mistake... Shame on this response from Bolingbrook. Grow some balls and take the blame for once. This isn't Washington D.C.
Beth D. July 12, 2014 at 12:54 AM
Nothing will change until Claar croaks. Morons keep re-electing this Republican tool who cares more about funneling (pun intended) money into his precious golf courses and airport than sounding tornado warning sirens for rotation and the funnel cloud that was shown ON RADAR rotating right ON TOP of Bolingbrook! My cell phone went off with an Emergency Weather Alert from the National Weather Service -- whose local branch is in Romeoville -- so I don't buy the b.s. that Bolingbrook officials were waiting for warning from the NWS and local weather bureaus and spotters. FFS, every radar ap and online program from ABC to WGN along with wunderground.com showed a tornado WARNING for Bolingbrook til 10:30PM -- so how the hell can Bolingbrook officials try and give us the b.s. line that one of the reasons the sirens weren't sounded was because Plainfield & Naperville didn't sound *theirs*?!? And it doesn't take a genius to know that weather spotters couldn't see a rain-wrapped funnel cloud in a sky at night!! IT WAS ON THE FREAKING RADAR AND THE WARNING WAS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. Bolingbrook effed up. Now residents should OWN UP to the fact that this mistake is OUR fault by re-electing Claar. This is a mayor who spends millions on golf courses and golf clubs where he personally chose the stone for the building's facade and interior, spends millions on subdivisions where houses still sit unoccupied, and throws money hand over fist into an unnecessary airport -- all the while cutting back our management of our Police and Fire Department to ONE person -- ONE chief who manages BOTH! Now Claar talks of the real possibility of outsourcing our 911 dispatch to an outside call-center that handles 19 OTHER communities! There is a REASON we have an award-winning 911 dispatch and that is because it is manned by men and women who are LOCALS and know the area. There have been countless complaints from Lemont after *they* outsourced their 911 dispatch with dispatchers in this outsourced center demanding that callers SPELL street names and give cross-streets and landmarks (such as businesses) to navigate to the site of the call because these people DON'T KNOW THE TOWN! I'm willing to bet this call-center has a friend of Claar's in a high position. Nepotism and corruption follow Claar in everything he does.
Robert July 12, 2014 at 11:58 PM
Outsourcing the 9-1-1 center guarantees Roger and all his rubber stamps and department head cronies will ALL get their raises. Even though the King of Bolingbrook is already one of the top 5 Highest paid mayors in the state.
Jen C July 13, 2014 at 07:17 AM
If there is even a remote possibility that there's a tornado the sirens should be turned on! Better safe than sorry! I would rather make a trip to the basement than risk losing my life.

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