Cellphone alerts forget to include ‘test’ in Monday’s statewide tornado drill

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas statewide tornado drill for 2021 was conducted Monday, 10 a.m. as a part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Some locations also sounded sirens as part of the drill.

The National Weather Service offices serving Kansas said they sent out a TEST tornado warning to the Emergency Alert System to ensure that it is relayed through law enforcement and media communication systems.

However, many in Kansas and Missouri report they received the alert on their cell phone as a Tornado Warning that did not include the word ‘TEST.’

The National Weather Service is working to clear up the confusion.

According to the National Weather Service in Wichita, they are, “aware that cell phones were alerted by the statewide tornado drill test warnings.”

Warning coordination meteorologist, Chance Hayes, said typically the service tests the weather radio system and the emergency alert system. He said the new system was misconfigured.

“Instead of trapping the test tornado warnings for all the different weather offices that cap handler allowed that message to go through as an actual tornado warning,” said Hayes. “I’m sure it raised stress levels and anxiety levels and pressure, and we are sincerely apologetic for that.”

The service went on to say the warning was, “encoded with test wording and designated test codes.”

The weather service also said the cause of the alerts was due to “new software implemented last week mistakenly allowed the test to out as an actual warning. The software is fixed.”

For more information on Severe Weather Preparedness week including daily severe weather topics, click here. Additional information on the weather in Kansas last year including tornado stats can be found by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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