Wicked Storm in Duluth

4:30pm — Holy cow the emergency siren went off and a tornado watch has been issued in Duluth. I can’t remember ever hearing that siren go off for realsies before. And it’s so nice out.

According to the National Weather Service’s Duluth forecast office: “Hail and heavy rain reported on Highway 20 just inside St. Louis County.”

4:50pm — It’s actually a severe thunderstorm warning. The tornado watch siren was sounded by mistake. And it’s still sunny and hot in Duluth.

5:30pm — Clouds are creeping in. Faint traces of drizzle. People who are mowing their lawns have begun jogging.

5:45pm — Rumblings in the distance. Is that thunder or an airplane?

6:00pm — A little lightening over the hill. The storm seems to be mostly north of Duluth.

6:20pm — Things seem to be slowly shifting … slowly … holy cow! Run for cover! Or grab a swimsuit and have some fun! No! Don’t do that! Haaaaail! Watch out for flying deck furniture!

6:25pm — Whew. I guess that’s it. Just a little rain now. National Weather Service’s Duluth forecast office: “An aluminum flag pole was snapped in half by the wind (in Proctor). Pea-size hail.”

8:15pm — Lordy mama! Is it coming back? Yikes. Well … I guess it’s not as furious this time. Or maybe I’m less easily impressed.

9:16pm — National Weather Service’s Duluth forecast office: “A 6-to-7-inch-diameter tree snapped off, State Highway 27 (in Brule).”


Dave Sorensen

about 14 years ago

Weather.com says it's a tornado WARNING. It's so surreal to be out on a sunny day and have the Big Brother voice on the emergency warning system telling us to take cover. Our neighbor figured he'd better mow the grass pronto, before it gets here. Radar does show rough weather around Meadowlands heading South East. Is it just a folk-belief that the big lake protects us from tornados?

Dave Sorensen

about 14 years ago

weather.com already downgraded it to a severe thunderstorm warning as of 5:11. I spoke too soon.


about 14 years ago

My wife said there was a notice on TV that the sirens in Duluth were set off in error. They were trying to activate the sirens in Floodwood instead.


about 14 years ago

Thanks for the DNT link.

Barrett Chase

about 14 years ago

If I remember correctly, the tornado sirens went off several times in the early 1980s.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

I'm sure you're right. The old sirens didn't have the same commanding sound the new ones do -- if that's any excuse for me not remembering a non-test siren.  

And back then there wasn't a voice that came on to announce the siren was either a test or legit. 

I actually figured today must be the first Wednesday of the month when I heard the siren, and was stunned when the voice indicated there was a tornado watch.

Barrett Chase

about 14 years ago

One of the reasons you don't remember the sirens is that you weren't living with Ma Chase while she practically had an epileptic fit every time the sirens went off, grabbing everyone by the scruff and shoving them down into the spidery, unfinished basement. 

I want to say there were at least two siren instances in 1982. One storm littered the streets in my neighborhood with limbs and debris, and knocked the chimney off our house, crushing the next-door neighbors' porch. Another time, I remember hearing that a twister was spotted out on the lake.

People in Duluth have traditionally said that the lake protects us from tornadoes, but meteorologists frequently point out that this is not true at all.

Barrett Chase

about 14 years ago

Also, the sirens went off recently -- something like 3 or 4 years ago. I was at work, and we all had to go into the basement of the post office, which was funny because a couple of customers had to come down there with us.


about 14 years ago

Paul has me laughing because I, too, took a few seconds to realize it was not the first Wednesday of the month, being the 24th and all.
And unlike Ma Chase, when my son said the sirens were going off, I told him it was probably some weather thing and not to worry about it. We don't have a basement, so what's the point?


about 14 years ago

Didn't the sirens go off in '99 when we had tornados in the Cotton area? My sis was taking shelter in the Mall area Super One on her way to our cabin on Lake V. We were at the cabin trying to keep our boat & the new yet to be secured dock from taking off in the in the big waves. Straight-line winds as I recall. 

Love a good storm. Yesterday completely missed Normana township.


about 14 years ago

Nice report Paul. I heard the siren voice from my place on 27th W and 6th St and it is at about 19th and superior street. I feel bad for those folks sitting outside T-Bonz at the time.


about 14 years ago

I plugged my ears and heard hidden code getting through.  Apparently we attack Afghanistan next month.

Just kidding.  Seriously, though, it was creepy.  With fingers in ears, I could hear structure on top of the siren.

Sorry, though, geeks, I highly doubt we use sirens as a legit communication device that operates out of its intended purpose.  Would make for a good novel, though, lol.

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