Monday’s cold front that zipped through the state with straight-line winds up to 60 m.p.h. resulted in damage around the state which missed Maumelle but it did create confusion with some residents about an alleged Code Red Tornado alert.
Maumelle fire chief George Glynn said there was not a tornado warning set off for Maumelle through the Code Red system at 6:15 p.m. when the tornado warning was issued by the Shreveport weather office.
However, he said several Verizon cell phone customers received a mistaken tornado warning text from their cell phone company that should have gone out only in Columbia and Lafayette Counties in southern Arkansas .
Ginger Kays Daril, a spokesman for Verizon said they offer weather alerts on many of their smart phones but the administration is handled by the alerting authority – the National Weather Service.
In this case, the alert for Maumelle was not activated the local weather service office, according to Julie Lesko, a meteorologist with the service at their North Little Rock station. She said the warnings came from the Shreveport weather office that covers southern Arkansas.
Patrick Omundson, a meteorologist in Shreveport’s National Weather Service office said their tornado warning was issued only for the two Arkansas counties. However, he said that several smart phone owners around the state, not just in Pulaski County, received the text alert and they received numerous inquiries about it.
The alerts aren’t manually generated, both weather spokesmen said. Omundson said when a tornado warning is issued, the national alert system picks it up and relays it to the appropriate area.
The apparent glitch has already been reported to officials working on the national emergency system which includes both weather service employees and phone companies.
Daril said the weather and other alerts – except for the national presidential alerts can all be screened out and effectively turned off by smart phone owners.
Glynn said the high winds Monday indicate that Arkansas’ spring weather season will soon be here and encouraged Maumelle residents who haven’t done so to sign up for Code Red. Reisenrs just need to go to the city’s Website and look for the Code Red link, click it and input the appropriate data.
He said Maumelle officials have been very discreet in activating the alerts because many Pulaski County alerts are on the opposite side of the county and have no impact upon the Maumelle area.
Glynn said Maumelle did activate a severe weather warning Monday but not a tornado warning. With straight line winds up to 60 m.p.h. all along the front, the severe weather alert was certainly warranted.