First came the damage, then came the sirens
By the time warning sirens sounded Friday morning in Farmington the most serious damage had already been done.
According to Dakota Communication Center interim director Diane Lind warning sirens were activated in Farmington at 3:46 a.m. Aug. 13. But by that time, many residents in neighborhoods hit hardest by the storm were already outside examining homes that had been damaged, garages that in some cases had been demolished and trees that had been uprooted or snapped in two.
The DCC, Dakota County's central dispatch center, is in charge of activating sirens countywide. Decisions on when to sound the alarm are based on information from the National Weather Service and on reports from police and emergency workers in the field. The DCC can set off sirens for individual cities, and even individual neighborhoods.
"We don't set off the sirens for Farmington if the only thing that's being impacted is the northeast part of the county," Lind said.
Friday's tornado first touched down at about 3:05 a.m., but Lind said the DCC didn't get a storm-warning teletype from the weather service until 3:14. That notice mentioned Randolph, Rosemount, Coates, Hastings, Hampton, Vermillion and New Trier, but not Farmington. The DCC eventually activated the Farmington sirens based on reports from the field. Lind said there were no teletypes from the weather service mentioning Farmington until 4:56 a.m.