National Weather Service: Tornado Warning text in Missouri, Kansas was false alarm

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A mass text alert warning residents to take shelter immediately due to a Tornado Warning was sent out in error, according to the U.S. National Weather Service in Kansas City.

The NWS confirmed that the warning was supposed to be a test message and was not supposed to trigger a mass phone alert. There is no threat of tornadoes today.

“We’re not sure what went wrong,” said Andy Bailey, the warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS in Kansas City.

Bailey told FOX4 that it was supposed to be a test, which would not get sent out to the public.

“This drill was for Kansas and Missouri, so more than likely it impacted residents in those two states,” Bailey said.

He said mass alerts go through a government hub that then sends messages through phone providers. Tests have coding that is supposed to prevent the messages from sending.

He later sent FOX4 this statement:

This morning our office properly coded a test tornado warning and sent it out as we have every year for severe weather preparedness week. We followed our test warning instructions verbatim. 

Somewhere above us in the Wireless Emergency Alert chain it was misinterpreted and disseminated as an actual warning. Our headquarters is investigating a cause. To my knowledge this impacted all offices in Kansas and Missouri participating in the test today.

That is all of the information I have at this time.

Andy Bailey

The test was a part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The NWS is investigating what went wrong.

“Concerning the recent tornado drill. The National Weather Service issued a properly coded TEST tornado warning. Somewhere in the Wireless Emergency Alert System chain, the message was misinterpreted as an actual warning and sent it out that way. We are looking into the cause,” NWS Kansas City tweeted.

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