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Tornado warning test wasn't meant to go public

Published On: Mar 04 2013 02:02:30 PM CST

False weather alert

MADISON, Wis. -

A tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service Monday morning was meant to be a test, according to WISC meteorologist Gary Cannalte.

An alert was send out at about 10:30 a.m. indicating there was a tornado warning issued until 10:45 and urging the public to take shelter.

The alerts were sent to broadcasters and many cellphone owners.

According to Cannalte, the National Weather Service had scheduled a test tornado warning at 10:30 a.m. Monday for the south-central and southeastern part of Wisconsin. The test was designed to test communications for the office.

The warning used the "operational" setting in the V-TEC (Valid Time Event Code) that determines the type of warning, area affected, and expiration time. instead of using the "test" setting). As a result, cell phone companies who monitor the weather wire for bulletins to pass on to their customers as part of the alerts through cell phones passed it on as a real bulletin. As a result, he said all cell phone with the WEA capability were alerted.

The National Weather Service issued a statement about the warning, saying the warning was issued in preparation for a statewide severe weather drill in April.

"Unfortunately, we issued this warning with a VTEC code of 'O' for operational instead of 'T' for text. The warning did not go to NOAA weather radio but it did go out as a live tornado warning through most of the digital vendor services."

"There was no threat of a tornado and we apologize for the confusion and inconvenience that this caused," the statement read.

WISC-TV had nothing to do with the alert being sent out.

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