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News Story
Updated: 07/12/2018 01:19:00AM

Official: Residents didn’t hear warning siren

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In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 photo, Nathan Garner, left, helps Andrew Anderson and Cade Holder, push aside the roof of a mobile home destroyed by a tornado that blew through the Prairie View RV Park in the early morning hours in Watford City, N.D. The three are missionaries helping the Red Cross by going through the wreckage trying to retrieve valuables for homeowners. A newborn baby was killed and more than two dozen people were injured. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

This aerial image from video, shot with a drone provided by HRI Aerial Imaging, shows damage at an RV park Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Watford City, N.D., after a violent storm whipped through the northwestern North Dakota city overnight. More than two dozen people were hurt in the storm that overturned recreational vehicles and tossed mobile homes, officials said Tuesday. (HRI Aerial Imaging via AP)

This photo provided by Clifford Bowden shows damage early Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at an RV park in Watford City, N.D., after a violent storm whipped through the northwestern North Dakota city overnight. More than two dozen people were hurt in the storm that overturned recreational vehicles and tossed mobile homes, officials said Tuesday. (Clifford Bowden via AP)

In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 photo, debris is scattered around an RV park in Watford City, N.D., after a tornado whipped through the North Dakota oil patch city overnight, overturning recreational vehicles and demolishing more than 100 structures, officials said Tuesday. A newborn baby was killed and more than two dozen people were injured. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 photo, Louis Vallieres searches for clothes and valuables through the wreckage of his mobile home in the Prairie View RV Park in Watford City, N.D., after a tornado whipped through the North Dakota oil patch city overnight, overturning recreational vehicles and demolishing more than 100 structures, officials said Tuesday. A newborn baby was killed and more than two dozen people were injured. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

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WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — All eight outdoor warning sirens in a North Dakota oil patch city were sounded before a deadly tornado ravaged an RV park, but park residents and others said they didn’t hear them, authorities said Wednesday.

A newborn baby was killed and more than two dozen people were injured when the storm moved through Watford City shortly after midnight Tuesday. More than 120 structures were demolished.

Karolin Jappe, the McKenzie County emergency manager, said all of the sirens functioned properly, including one within blocks of the RV park.

“When you put a siren in that environment you aren’t going to hear that unless you’re outside. And nobody would be outside in that weather,” Jappe said.

Mary Senger, emergency manager for Burleigh County in Bismarck, said it’s not unusual for high winds to distort the sound of a siren, which typically has a 1-mile radius. She said the systems are meant to alert people who are engaged in outdoor activities and most of the sirens are placed near parks, sporting venues or other recreational areas.

McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger said he lives on a hill overlooking the park and he didn’t hear the sirens.

Ken Simosko, National Weather Service meteorologist in Bismarck, said a severe thunderstorm warning with the possibility of a tornado was issued about 60 minutes in advance of the storm. He declined to talk about what impact the storm would have on the sound of warning sirens.

The tornado destroyed 122 structures and damaged about 200 more.

Lt. Matthew Watkins of the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office said the number of people injured stood at 29 on Wednesday afternoon, but he expected that number to rise. Nine of those are in critical condition, he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Paul Martin classified the tornado as an EF2, which is defined by wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph. Wind speeds reached 127 mph in Watford City, damaging mobile homes and overturning campers in the RV park.


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