HomeNewsTornado Warnings in Iowa Were Delayed During Weekend’s Deadly Outbreak

Tornado Warnings in Iowa Were Delayed During Weekend’s Deadly Outbreak

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

A deadly Iowa tornado did not have a warning with it as they were delayed in the state. Most people get their alerts through their cell phones. Still, a technology glitch caused people in the path of a deadly Iowa tornado to not receive an alert. It proved incredibly costly in so many ways. We get more about this situation with some help from CNN.

At a Glance

  • Deadly Iowa tornado hit the state but warnings were delayed.
  • The National Weather Service’s alert system was suffering a tech glitch.
  • People all over the state expect their cell phones to have alerts pop up.
  • The lack of notification proved a sad note on a really bad day in Iowa

Iowa Tornado Hits While NWS Warning System Was Down

Residents that were in the path of these tornadoes in Iowa did not get notifications in a timely manner. They were delayed on Saturday. The National Weather Service’s warning system had technical glitches. So the NWS office in Des Moines scrambled to warn the public.

The Iowa tornado outbreak happened to be unusual for Des Moines. Iowa does get tornadoes but having a serious one at an EF-4 level in March is unusual indeed.

“We’ve only had in state history, I believe one EF-4 tornado in March and two or three EF-3s,” Jim Lee, meteorologist for the NWS office in Des Moines, said. “So it has happened before. But it’s unusual to have them that strong this early.”

Preliminary Reports Had Six Tornadoes Hitting Across Iowa

Meteorologists say that preliminary reports have six tornadoes touching down across Iowa. That could go higher as they survey the damage. One tornado is believed to be an EF-0, two of them are believed to be EF-1s, two EF-2s, and the fifth a possible EF-3.

Now a sixth tornado was an EF-4 that traveled 69.5 miles and was at times 800 yards wide. That’s according to the NWS. They report that in total, there were around 40 reports of tornadoes on Saturday, mostly across Iowa.

Yes, all of this was going on as the NWS experienced a technology glitch. That very thing impacted the warning system, causing, at times, nearly a 10-minute delay for some warnings to get out.

“Any delays with the receipt of tornado warnings is serious business as seconds count with a fast-moving and violent tornado,” said Daryl Herzmann, a systems analyst with Iowa State University.

Herzmann was watching what was happening in real-time and was actively tweeting about the ordeal. “When the local NWS office issues a tornado warning, that warning text needs to travel over a network to a central clearinghouse within the NWS at DC/College Park, MD to then be disseminated to the world,” Herzmann explained in an email to CNN.

“This network transmission to the central clearinghouse was suffering from that 3-10 minute latency due to a misconfiguration of a network path, impacting nearly all NWS forecast offices.”