By Starrla Cray
WINSTED A little bit of lightning could be seen jumping from cloud to cloud the evening of May 1, a reminder that severe weather is possible this time of year.
Earlier that evening, the Winsted City Council discussed its outdoor civil defense sirens, which are used to let citizens know about emergencies and weather events, such as tornadoes.
The city currently has four outdoor sirens, at the following locations:
• on Fairlawn Avenue West (purchased in 1998);
• at the Winsted Fire Station (purchased in 1998);
• on Lake Drive (purchased in 2005); and
• near the intersection of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1 and 230th Street (purchased in 2014).
The newest two sirens have battery backups, but the two purchased in 1998 do not. Converting the older sirens would cost $16,535 (about $8,000 each), based on a quote from Federal Signal Corporation.
This type of project is eligible for a $2,500 grant from CenterPoint Energy. The City of Winsted has received similar grants from CenterPoint in the past. This year’s grant application deadline is today (Friday, May 4), and all cities will be notified of grant status Monday, May 14.
City Administrator Dan Tienter recommended that Winsted purchase one battery backup this year, and save the purchase of a second one until a different year. That way, the city might be able to take advantage of grant funds for both purchases.
Council Member Mike Henrich said he would prefer to have this type of purchase listed in the city’s budget, instead of coming up as an extra expense in the middle of the year.
Council Member Patty Fitzgerald said she is comfortable with purchasing the battery backup this year.
The council directed Tienter to apply for the CenterPoint Energy grant. The council plans to decide whether or not to use grant funds to purchase a battery backup at its Tuesday, May 15 meeting.
If the outdoor warning sirens are sounding, the City of Winsted encourages people In the McLeod County area to tune in to KARP 106.9 FM or KDUZ 1260 AM to find out more details. In Winsted, sirens are tested the first Wednesday of every month, except during inclement weather.
The National Weather Service provides the following information regarding the use of civil defense sirens:
• Sirens are owned by counties and cities, and those are the entities that choose how and when to activate them.
• Some cities and counties choose to activate sirens for tornado warnings only. Others may activate for all severe thunderstorm warnings.
• Sirens normally sound for about three minutes and then go silent. Some jurisdictions may repeat siren activation every few minutes.
• There is no such thing as an “all clear” for storms.