By Kari Lucin, The Dickinson Press
JAMESTOWN — Emergency sirens in the city of Jamestown went off three times Sunday evening as a series of four tornado warnings were issued for Stutsman County.
Apparently, however, only one of the tornados touched down 10 to 12 miles west-northwest of Jamestown, the same one that spurred the initial use of the emergency siren.
The tornado appeared to start from the ground and go up, said observer Shawn Lange, who was heading out to a field to plant some soybeans when he caught sight of the tornado northwest of Eldridge.
“At first it just seemed like a little dust devil, and then it went up and got bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Lange, who records rainfall amounts for the National Weather Service.
He never did get to plant the soybeans, and instead parked his John Deere tractor and left — after taking pictures of the twister.
The Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office deputy who watched that tornado touch down said it was on agricultural land, and no damage had been reported from it yet.
According to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager/911 coordinator, that tornado prompted the initial sounding of the Jamestown city sirens.
“The dispatch center activates the sirens,” Bergquist said.
The sirens were used when the tornado was sighted on the ground, Bergquist said, at a time when no tornado warning was actually in effect.
“It’s very unusual to have four tornado warnings in one evening, and we’re just trying to piece all the details together,” Bergquist said.
Three of the warnings were for the city of Jamestown, and the other was for an area on the border of Stutsman County and Foster County.
As of 8:45 p.m., Bergquist had received no reports of hail from the storm, and the only reports of excess rain came from within the city of Jamestown, he said. The viaduct was flooded and closed.
The slow-moving thunderstorm dropped about an inch of rain on the town in about half an hour, said Patrick Ayd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office.
As of Sunday evening, some thunderstorms were still firing up northwest of Jamestown, so additional rainfall was expected, Ayd added.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch that will be in effect through Monday afternoon for Stutsman County through Monday afternoon.
People should not cross water-covered roadways, because it’s impossible to tell how deep the water is or whether the road beneath has been compromised, Ayd said.
More information about the storm or damage it’s caused may be available today, Bergquist said.