Accidental tornado warning message startles cell phone users throughout Missouri

by Peter Heck · Mar 3rd, 2021 9:02 am
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Last Updated Mar 4th, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Several Midwest residents in the region of St. Louis received a startling message Tuesday when the National Weather Service accidentally sent "Tornado Warning" alerts to users during a botched monthly test.

As part of Missouri's Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the NWS message was sent out at 10 a.m. to an undisclosed number of cell phone users. The test is usually intended to gauge the effectiveness of NOAA Weather Radios and the country's Emergency Alert System. But for some reason the test also activated the Wireless Emergency Alert system, stressing some unsuspecting residents.

The message included no text indicating it was a test:

Extreme Alert
National Weather Service TORNADO WARNING in the areas until 10:15 AM CST.

Take shelter now in a basement or in an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Check Media.

Kevin Deitsch at the National Weather Service apologized to residents on behalf of the NWS.

"We have started an investigation into why the WEA system was activated. We sincerely apologize for any confusion," Deitsch said in a statement.


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