Test tornado warning wrongly triggers phone alert system


ST. LOUIS, MO – As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, Missouri participated in a statewide tornado drill on Tuesday. The National Weather Service issued a live tornado warning that was clearly marked as a test.

“The whole point of the drill this morning was people for people to sit there and think what would I do if a tornado was bearing down on my school, business, home,” said Kevin Deitsch, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service St. Louis office.

That test warning triggered outdoor warning sirens and NOAA weather radios but it was not supposed to activate alerts on your phone. But the Wireless Emergency Alert service sent a cell phone alert nonetheless.

“In years past, the test tornado warnings that we have done have not activated this WEA system. This year it did,” Deitsch said. “We just found out there was an error in our internal system that sends the information to WEA. It didn’t catch that it was a tornado test. So it sent it out as if it was a true tornado.”

The National Weather Service is apologizing for any confusion and, thankfully, the issue has already been resolved. But there is a silver lining to getting today’s phone alert.

“If you did receive that warning this morning, you’re good to go. You did get that we alert. so if a true tornado warning were to come you would get that information,” Deitsch said.

The statewide drill also took place in Illinois but operated a little differently. Counties used the routine weekly test code for weather radios and that’s why no phone alerts were sent out.


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