Coats Requests Explanation for Erroneous Severe Weather Warnings

INDIANA, (WOWO): Senator Dan Coats, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter Friday afternoon, to the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) requesting an explanation for erroneous severe weather warnings received by northwest Indiana residents on Tuesday. 

The alerts ended with “NWS” – short for National Weather Service – a federal agency under the jurisdiction of NOAA.

The full letter is below:

Dear Dr. Sullivan:


I am writing regarding the National Weather Service broadcasting severe weather alerts in northwest Indiana on March 4, 2014.   According to multiple news reports, some northwestern Indiana residents received alerts Tuesday about a tornado warning even though the day was sunny and cold with no severe weather occurring, or predicted to occur. 


Many Hoosiers reported receiving these alerts, specifically tornado warnings, on their mobile devices, televisions, and radios.   While I understand the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio performs weekly tests via the Emergency Alert System, and severe weather alerts are sent to approved mobile devices in collaboration with the FCC and FEMA, the March 4 notifications failed to clarify if they were test alerts. 


In recent years, the livelihood of many Indiana families and businesses has been changed by severe weather.  Many Hoosiers rely on these alerts for potentially life-saving information.  As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I appreciate the services that NOAA provides, but I also recognize that the inadvertent or intentional dissemination of these alerts in the absence of severe weather diminishes their reliability and effectiveness.  For these reasons I urge you to investigate this matter and implement safeguards to ensure similar false warnings are prevented in the future.  Thank you for your consideration of my views, and I would appreciate being updated on the outcome of your investigation.   Should you or your staff have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or Sam Blevins on my staff.