Plainfield Spotters Didn't See Indications of Tornado: Police

Plainfield/Romeoville tornado was one of six confirmed during Monday night's storms.

Screenshot, www.facebook.com/nrnilstormchaser
Screenshot, www.facebook.com/nrnilstormchaser

Late Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed that six EF-1 tornadoes touched down during Monday night’s storms — including one that hit northeast Plainfield and northwest Romeoville.

The news prompted some in Plainfield to ask the question: Why weren’t the village’s tornado sirens activated?

According to Plainfield Police Cmdr. Ken Ruggles, anyone in a supervisory position within the Plainfield Police Department, fire protection district or Plainfield Emergency Management Agency can request activation if they believe conditions are right.

Ruggles said he was the highest-ranking supervisor on duty Monday night, leaving the decision to him as he consulted with trained weather spotters.

“We had spotters out all on the west side of town looking for rotation,” he said. Ruggles said spotters kept watching during the first round of storms, then headed back out as the second round of severe weather rolled in.

By the time NWS issued the tornado warning at 9:58 p.m., spotters believed the storm had already passed over them, Ruggles said.

“When they issued the warning, the storm had already passed the west edge of town,” he said. “It came right down behind our heads.”

In its report on the storms, the NWS put the time of the Plainfield/Romeoville tornado at 9:55 p.m., ending at 9:58 p.m., which was estimated based on radar.

Although the NWS said Doppler radar showed possible rotation, Ruggles said spotters were not seeing any damage or signs indicative or a tornado.

“Nobody had seen rotation or debris other than that associated with straight-line winds,” Ruggles said. “There was discussion among the spotters, myself being the highest ranking, and we made the decision not to activate.”

After the storms passed, Ruggles said the first report of damage came from the Reserve subdivision, where a resident reported a gas leak that happened when a grill was yanked away from a house. 

According to the Joliet Weather Center, the twisters were tough to spot. “Not only were they rain wrapped and hard to see but it was night to add on to it,” the site reported.

“A tornado was confirmed based on damage to mainly trees but also to some residences,” the NWS report said of the Plainfield storm, adding the twister crossed I-55 near mile marker 261 and “was embedded within straight-line wind damage that continued into Lockport and further east-southeast.”

“Did we get hit? We got hit,” Ruggles said. “Were we prepared for it? We thought we were. Had we had any other indications, yes, we would have activated.”

Power had been restored to most of those who lost electricity during the storms by Wednesday afternoon, Ruggles said, and storm cleanup continued.

“We’re very thankful that there were no reported storm-related injuries,” Ruggles said.

Tornado timeline

The NWS said six EF-1 tornadoes hit northern Illinois Monday night.

According to the NWS, the first twister struck at about 9:16 p.m. in Earlville in LaSalle County, causing numerous downed trees as well as roof damage. One garage was also blown out.

Another touched down in southwest Kendall County near Lisbon at 9:38 p.m., damaging two farmsteads, including destroying an outbuilding on one and snapping a large tree.

At 9:55 p.m., another tornado with a maximum speed of 95 mph struck, hitting a three-mile area in Plainfield and Romeoville. More than 50 trees were downed, and minor damage such as peeled-off siding and shingles, as well as blown-out windows, was reported to numerous homes in the Woodlands of the Reserve and the Lakewood Falls subdivisions, NWS said.

Two other tornadoes struck Monday near the village of Grant Park in Kankakee County, the weather service reported.

The sixth tornado was in Thomson, Illinois, located near the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois.

Frank July 09, 2014 at 11:47 PM
Congrats to Plainfield. Another bad decision just made tonight's channel 9 news. This time we made 3 million Chicagoans chuckle at us. The town struck by a tornado that didn't follow nws activation warning because they didn't see it. If you thought it was humorous reading it on this board, it was a REAL hoot seeing it on tv.
Tim July 10, 2014 at 12:05 AM
Frank - it was on the morning radio programs just a few days afterward too. One of the hosts was in disbelief, saying he had to go double check because it sounded too unbelievable. But don't worry, the people in the bubble that messed up say that they didn't mess up. Nothing outside of the bubble matters to those 'in charge' in Plainfield. Not the reputation they gave the town from what they did to the park district. Not the multiple law enforcement investigations of 'leadership' positions. Not the reputation they got from the failure of sounding the sirens. Not the reputation they got from having a sitting trustee failing to understand the 1st amendment. None of that matters, because they keep patting each other on the back and saying how great of a job they are doing. Wait 'till the school pension mess they created comes to a head... THAT is going to be real interesting, and it going to make all of what has come before it pale in comparison. They are systematically destroying this town bit by bit for their own personal gain, and the bits are getting larger each time.
Sheila Raddatz July 10, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Frank, this was on all the major networks starting the morning of July 1. Today, I saw it on the morning news, too. Our town is known for the big tornado and the reporters infer to it every time they mention that we did not sound the sirens. At the same time, I have to say that once again that the Public Works crew have been very helpful and diligent with the storm clean up at the north end of town. They, somehow, never end up with the thanks that they deserve in any type of storm recovery. Thank you, Public Works!
Tim July 10, 2014 at 12:37 AM
Shelia - When someone is doing their job correctly, you won't even know they are there. The people I know in public service do it because they really want to serve the public, and not themselves. Are we patting people on the back for doing what's expected of them now? Is that how far down the village has sunk? There is a reason Plainfield has been in the news so much lately.
Frank July 10, 2014 at 10:33 AM
As Tim inferred, we as a village have made the news for all negative things lately, i.e. the PPD issues, the recent tornado, the village hall remodeling, etc. and to add insult to injury, people were chuckling about it. I really don't find that funny, and I'm being sincere here, not trying to stir the pot. There are once again many rooftops going up here, which is really good to see and there is evidence of a resurgence of some pretty solid commercial investment activity. These are all positives. Then, people from outside the community see these ridiculous news items about our village governance and the foibles of our leadership and one really has to begin to wonder how good is that for our community and its future? We really need to get our act together so the next several news bits that appear on TV or radio about our Village are about some of the positives going on around here. This is a great place to live, but our leadership must stop doing things that ultimately end up presenting our community in a bad light. If I sound frustrated, I am.


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