A word about the Saturday, March 5th event in Iowa

Intense thunderstorm
An intense thunderstorm pummels DeKalb, IL with lightning that partially knocked out a communications tower for the city. Image courtesy: Gilbert Sebenste

On March 5, 2022, at least 6 tornadoes touched down in Iowa, one of which stayed on the ground for nearly 70 miles, killed 6 people, including 2 children, and injured 5 more.

Although that was bad, it was potentially made worse by a National Weather Service network misconfiguration in Dallas, TX. That caused delays of 2-10 minutes of all severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings that were issued for much of the day.

The delay was within the National Weather Service network. Once the bulletin made it to the National Weather Service Telecommunications Gateway, we at AllisonHouse received the bulletin in a matter of a few seconds.

According to the Associated Press, The Daily Mail, and msn.com, the up to 10 minute delays made the National Weather Service Des Moines, IA office do their best to issue the warnings several minutes earlier than they normally would have(1). They were fully aware of what was going on, as they were not seeing their own bulletins in their media/Emergency Manager chat room, or on local TV and other media.

This affected almost everybody, including AllisonHouse, our competition and all private weather companies, the National Weather Service itself, and everything else except NOAA Weather Radio. There was no warning delay with that service. But ALL text messages, app alerts, and all AllisonHouse-supported software were impacted.

I made a post several months ago about the equipment issues at the National Weather Service, and while we do everything we can to mitigate or at least reduce the impacts of delays and outages, there was nothing anyone could have done in this case…except make sure you had a NOAA Weather Radio, which AllisonHouse very strongly recommends you have as redundancy.

Even with this data delay, we still receive and pass on to you the warnings as fast and as reliably as we possibly can. Of that, you can rest assured…no matter what happens.

1. https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/tech-glitch-caused-a-10-minute-delay-on-tornado-warning-alerts-in-iowa/ar-AAULCvV

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