Dispatchers of the Fulton County Sheriff Department triggered the county tornado warning sirens about 8:45 pm, Sunday night, June 23, after an unconfirmed report of a funnel cloud.
Rich Kilgour, FCSD 911 coordinator, said Monday the tornado warning sirens in Fulton County are triggered under four circumstances:
•A tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service.
•A report of a tornado or funnel cloud by any public safety worker, i.e., police offi- cer, rescue worker, firefighter.
•A report of a tornado or funnel cloud by a civilian who has received weather spotter training.
•A report of a tornado or funnel cloud from a private citizen who has not received weather spotter training.
Under the first three circumstances, a tornado or funnel cloud observation is considered confirmed.
When a report is from a civilian without weather spotter training, it is considered unconfirmed, Kilgour said.
Kilgour said dispatchers are to “error on the side of caution,” so the countywide sirens were triggered.
Information broadcast over public service radio frequencies stated the unconfirmed tornado was near the Fulton- Henry county line between Wauseon and Delta, moving northeast.
That put Delta, Swanton, Assumption, Ai, Metamora, and eastern Fulton County in the danger zone.
Archbold and the surrounding area was well out of the path of the storm.
So why set off the Archbold tornado sirens?
Kilgour said Fulton County has a policy that sets off all sirens across the county.
The sirens are triggered by tones transmitted from the county dispatch center to individual radio receivers on the sirens.
In the past, county dispatchers could trigger sirens in particular areas.
Under that system, the dispatchers had to send out ten sets of tones. Transmitting all of the tones took one minute, ten seconds.
That’s too long when severe weather threatens, Kilgour said.
Under the countywide protocol, just one tone (or set of tones) sets off all sirens.
Kilgour and Heather Kost, Fulton County Emergency Management Agency director, said when someone hears the sirens, it’s a warning that something is going on somewhere in the county, and that residents should monitor National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio, commercial radio, or television for news.
Amos Dodson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said there was no tornado Sunday evening.
Dodson said NWS meteorologists had been watching scattered thunderstorms earlier in the day.
“Most were fairly weak, but the one in your area managed to strengthen, and we put out a severe thunderstorm warning,” he said.
The meteorologists based their decision on radar observations, he said.
News of the warning began reaching weather radios and television stations a few minutes after the Fulton County sirens sounded.
Dodson said NWS officials heard the report of a possible funnel cloud near the Fulton-Henry county line, but observers in the area reported only low-hanging “scud” clouds.
To the untrained eye, a scud cloud can appear to be a funnel cloud, he said.
The weather radar picture did not show rotation, or other indicators, of a tornado.
The thunderstorm did destroy a home on Wood Street in Delta.
Brett Hite, chief of the Delta Community Fire Department, said at about 9:07 pm, firefighters were dispatched to a report of a house fire at 315 Wood Street.
Hite said a tree branch in the backyard had been blown down by the storm, fell and pulled down the electrical line to the home. The wires came in contact with the wood-frame home, which had metal siding.
The resulting electrical arcs started the fire.
When the first Delta fire crew arrived, the kitchen area of the two-story home was burning.
They began an interior attack, but had to fall back when it was discovered the electrical line was still energized.
DFD then went into a defensive mode, protecting nearby homes. Aerial trucks from Swanton and Wauseon were called in to assist.
Eventually, Hite said a hydraulic excavator was called in to demolish what remained of the structure.
There were people in the home when the fire started, but they escaped without injury.
The home was a total loss.