Tornado spotted near Yoder, sirens silent
YODER – At 7:48 p.m. on June 21, the National Weather Service in Cheyenne (NWS), Wyoming placed the town of Yoder under a tornado warning.
A warning means that a tornado has been spotted or radar has indicated rotation in your area.
The Town of Yoder is equipped with a tornado warning system which can be set off to warn the community from multiple locations; however, the sirens did not sound.
According to Meteorologist Steve Rubin, “It was around 7:44 p.m., there was a tornado three miles southwest of Yoder. We had a trained spotter that called in and reported what is called a ‘stovepipe tornado’, thinner tornado, three miles southwest of Yoder. It quickly became wrapped in rain and it drifted northwest, so we don’t have any reports of any damage because it was in an open field.”
“We issue the warnings, but the local officials are the ones that decide whether or not to set off the tornado sirens. It’s based on the threat level,” Rubin said. “I know when they called here, we had heard the tornado had withdrawn up into the clouds, so it was to the local officials decision and they decided not to set off the alarms.”
“What happened last night (June 21), we had one of the traveling weather chasers or storm chasers, they called in the tornado, what they thought was a funnel cloud, about three miles east of Yoder,” Brent Bozeman, Goshen County Emergency Management Coordinator said. “Justin Burkart [Yoder Volunteer Fire Department Chief] was actually in the town of Yoder when the call came in and the weather service put out the tornado warning. He immediately was in communication was the NWS.”
“I was on the southeast side of the storm talking to NWS over the radio. I had Rick Teeters on the northwest side of the storm watching it on that side. We did have rotation with the storm. We were monitoring it at that time,” Burkart said. “During that time, the NWS had got a report from a storm chaser of a tornado that was rain-wrapped. However, I was watching the actual wall cloud that was rotating, which didn’t have a tornado. The NWS, did at that point, issue a tornado warning and when I looked at the box, kind of included the town of Yoder, half and half and so I called them (NWS) on the radio and I asked, ‘This tornado warning, should we sound sirens for the town of Yoder?’ and they said ‘The town of Yoder is not in imminent threat from what we are seeing and [we] would not recommend sounding sirens.’”
Burkart agreed with the NWS recommendations based on visual of the area in question and chose not to sound the tornado warning siren in Yoder.
“We tried to go find damage. There were no powerlines down, no pivots turned, windrows weren’t touch,” Burkart said. “We’ve seen no pictures and there is no evidence of a tornado. We were a little skeptical that it was an accurate report, especially when I was there, watching the actual wall cloud that was rotating.”
“It was a joint decision between the NWS and I not to sound the sirens in Yoder because it was at the very edge of the warning box and their scans were showing that the storm was decreasing in intensity. They flat out told me, ‘The town of Yoder is not in imminent threat by this supposed tornado’,” Burkart explained.
The town of Yoder doesn’t have a public tornado shelter for the community.
“We use to have neighbors opening the doors. I know at one time we had the church. We even talked to the church and the church wouldn’t do it. They said they’d leave their doors locked and we were like, holy cow.,” Burkart said.
“There are some grants that the new emergency management coordinator is looking at because there is some funding out there to put in storm shelters out there in that area,” Burkart, who also sits on the Goshen County Board of Commissioners, said.
“We were just taking the sirens not going off, we were upset,” Norman Feagler, mayor for the Town of Yoder said. “The NWS has boxed in areas that are in Goshen County, that tornado was outside of the box, so the decision was made not to set off the warning, which to me is, if that tornado was that close to Yoder there should be a way that siren does a blip about how there has been tornado activity has been present in your area, please be alert. I got an alert on my phone, but I’ve been through tornados and you never know what direction they are going to go,” Feagler said. “My wife was on pins and needles, running from one door to the other. I’m upset over that whole deal, I really am. Unless we can get something clarified with the NWS or the local emergency management coordinator, I don’t think that will ever change.”
“We have one individual that is on the town council that has said we can use her basement. We use to be able to use the church but the people in charge of the church now say we can’t do that anymore because of insurance,” Feagler said.
“The NOAA Weather Radio is a good thing to have, which is usually around $30-$50, those will automatically be tone alerted, once the warning goes out you can get the notice of the tornado by having a NOAA,” Rubin said. “We highly recommend people have those because I think too many people depend on the sirens to go off and the tornado warning will always alert the weather radio tone alert to go off. If they had that, they would know if a tornado was nearby or a tornado warning,” Rubin explained.
“We have a program called CodeRED that you can sign up to and get alerts. That works with landlines and cellphones. I would shy away social media as your primary source of notification,” Burkart said. “CodeRED, following the NWS and the EAS (emergency alert system) through the weather radio is always a good way to get those alerts.”
To sign up for CodeRED, please visit https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/181A26C9383B and follow the instructions. Signing up for CodeRED is simple. You can also customize the types of alerts you would like notification of. You will then receive a pre-recorded phone call from your local municipality or employer sent by OnSolve.
“Make sure you have a plan. Communicate, talk with your family. Talk about where you are going to go. Some people don’t always have a basement, so what interior room are you going to go to? Is that a bathroom, into your closet? Have that communication with your family,” Burkart said.
Many times, during these types of storms, our communities loose cell service and sometimes power. The NOAA has a battery backup.
“They are a godsend. You hear about people and their lives being saved because of the warning on the NOAA,” Rubin said.
“I think maybe in the future, especially, since just the fact that the weather service put it (the tornado warning) out we will probably go ahead, even if we have someone there, it’s probably best if we sound the siren.” Bozeman said.