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Weather Service Finds Its Alert System Is All Wet

March 04, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The National Weather Service today suspended warning tests by its local offices until officials can correct a computer problem that has resulted in several false warnings.

The action came hours after a false tornado warning was issued in Dodge City, Kan., and only a few days after similar problems on Long Island, New York, and in Washington, Chicago and Brownsville, Tex.

In the most widely publicized instance, a tornado warning was issued early Monday morning stating incorrectly that a twister had destroyed the city of Rockford, Ill., and was headed for Chicago.

Today, the agency's Dodge City office sent a bulletin at 2 a.m. to news organizations in Kansas and Oklahoma urging residents of Barber County to seek shelter immediately.

Spokesman Donald Witten said the troubles started after local weather service offices were sent new computer programs designed to speed up warnings when severe weather conditions occurred.

When the meteorologists tried out the new discs, they were supposed to include the statement "This is just a test," but for some reason that phrase did not get transmitted in several instances, Witten said.

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