Warning system sends alert to wrong area

Posted at 8:33 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 05:22:50-04

If you live in Johnson County, you may have received an alert on your mobile phone or an email about a Tornado Warning issued for the area.

The problem is, it was sent to the wrong Johnson County.

The message was intended for Johnson County, Texas, but residents here in Kansas received it.

“Any notifications are erroneous,” the NWS Kansas City said in a tweet.

Sabian Lucas and 18,000 residents received the erroneous text. Lucas took is seriously.

"We were already in the basement," she said. 

Trent Pittman, the assistant director of community preparedness for Johnson County, said it was an error by the notification system vendor, Everbridge. 

"Early indications are that there was a software malfunction in the automated message," Pittman explained.

Johnson County sent a corrective notification minutes later, but not everyone received it. 

"No, no, we didn't get a follow up text," Lucas said. "We were prepared and everything, but I never want to have that moment where it's like, 'It's time.'"

JoCo residents voice frustration online

Several concerned Johnson County, Kansas residents took to social media to show their concerns…

While others were wondered how the message was sent in the first place.

“We are currently investigating why NotifyJoCo message was sent out,” a representative with the county said.

Johnson County later released the following statement:

The issue that resulted in a false tornado warning on the county’s emergency alert system, NotifyJoCo, has been identified and resolved.

Johnson County Emergency Management officials worked in coordination with the system’s vendor to identify a setting issue that inadvertently triggered the notification. The setting in the system resulted in the system identifying one contact’s request for notification of weather warnings in Johnson County, Texas, and when a tornado warning was issued for that area, it inadvertently sent notifications to contacts requesting warnings for Johnson County, Kansas.

“In working with the vendor, we were able to identify the issue and resolve it,” said Dan Robeson, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator. “We apologize for any inconvenience this caused.”

The false alert happened at 5:16 p.m. and went to approximately 18,000 contacts. Staff in the Emergency Operations Center were able to stop the message and send a notice to the contacts in the system alerting them it was a false alarm by 5:29 p.m.


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