PLAINFIELD – Plainfield Police commanders defended their decision Monday to the Village Board not to sound the sirens during the June 30 storms that produced a tornado and caused uprooted trees, heavy power outages and light structural damage to homes.
An EF1 tornado, the second lowest category possible for a tornado that can still carry winds of up to about 110 mph, developed in the double dose of storms June 30.
It wound up damaging 21 homes, according to Plainfield officials.
Sirens never sounded in Plainfield because storm spotters never saw a tornado, Plainfield police Commander Anthony Novak said.
“The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 9:58 p.m.,” Novak said. “By then, [the tornado] had struck and left Plainfield. Even with the warning, nothing could have been done.”
The first wave of storms that struck Plainfield caused some damage, but the second wave of storms that rolled over the village produced the tornado.
Police Commander Ken Ruggles was responsible for alarming the sirens if the village needed them on June 30. But he said there was no indication of a tornado and nothing from the weather service indicated a tornado at the time.
“At the point when I could have activated the sirens, I believe the storm had already passed us,” Ruggles said.
Ruggles presented a timeline of what happened during the second, more powerful storm.
Based on the tornado’s ground speed at 50 miles an hour, National Weather Service reports and the damage that occurred, police estimated that the tornado started south of West Lake Place about 9:55 p.m.
The weather service detected the tornado at 9:56 p.m. just after the tornado caused its heaviest damage to houses in The Reserve subdivision off Route 126. But when the warning was issued at 9:57 p.m., the tornado had already moved past Route 55 and into Romeoville.
Ruggles said that at 9:30 p.m., storm spotters were set up at Wal-Mart, Grande Park, the police department, Lincoln Elementary School, Route 126 at Schlapp Road, Route 126 at Ridge Road and Thomas Jefferson School.
Those locations were strategically identified because of the direction of the storm and extended field of vision. However, Ruggles said that at 9:52 p.m., storm spotters reported very limited visibility.
Trustees commended police, Plainfield Emergency Management Agency and the volunteer storm spotters for their service during the storm.
“Overall, the things that were done were excellent and the procedures were good,” Trustee Bill Lamb said, adding he and most residents probably went into the basement anyway.
• This article was updated to clarify an aspect of the story. The tornado that went through Plainfield was an EF1 category, which is the second lowest category possible for a tornado. The Herald-News regrets the confusion.