Lightning strike causes siren malfunction in Bemidji
Thunderstorms moving through the Bemidji area at approximately 1:15 a.m. May 19 resulted in a lightning strike very close to an outdoor warning siren located on Mill St NE which caused a malfunction of the outdoor warning siren network in the City of Bemidji. Beltrami County Communications Officers were notified by residents in that area the sirens sounded immediately following a lightning strike near Mill St NE. Communications Officers immediately turned off the sirens, but the sirens did sound for a couple of minutes before the cancellation message was received. Dozens of calls were received to the Beltrami County 911 Dispatch Center inquiring on the sirens. At the time of the malfunction there was widespread cloud to ground lightning and areas of downpours. No severe weather warnings were in effect.
As a reminder, under normal circumstances the outdoor warning sirens are intended to provide warning to people outdoors in emergency events to find a source of additional information and seek shelter if appropriate. These warnings include severe thunderstorm warnings with damaging winds, tornado warnings, or other emergency situations. In weather emergencies, good sources for additional information include commercial radio and television, the internet, and NOAA All Hazards Radio.
Sirens are routinely tested during Severe Weather Awareness Week, as well as the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00pm during the summer months.