Outagamie County Emergency Management Director Julie Loeffelholz is giving her version of what happened the night that several tornadoes struck. Loeffelholz is taking some heat for not sounding the tornado sirens after the storm hit early in the morning on August 7, but she says she followed the county’s policy for sounding the sirens.
Loeffelholz says she monitored the storms as they approached the county, and she was on her way to the office when the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning. She says county policy calls for activating the sirens when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, or trained spotters or police officers see a tornado. Loeffelholz says neither of those occurred. She says she can also sound the sirens at her discretion, but conditions didn’t seem to warrant that at the time.
Loeffelholz says a National Weather Service meteorologist told a group of county officials last week that the tornadoes couldn’t be seen on radar, and they were rain-wrapped, so they were invisible from the ground as well.
Outagamie County could bring in an outside official to evaluate its emergency response procedures for severe weather. County Executive Tom Nelson says there’s confusion about when to use the tornado sirens, in the wake of a storm on August 7. Nelson says there’s a need to address the issue because strong storms are hitting the county more frequently, since he took office two years ago. Nelson says he was considering calling for an audit, before this month’s storm.