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Tornado’s path impacted Kanawha County emergency alert

CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†There was a minor glitch in the Kanawha County emergency notification system during Monday evening’s tornado warning briefly holding up the activation of emergency sirens.

Kanawha County Emergency Management Director C.W. Sigman said there was a brief power outage at the Metro 911 Center at the same time dispatchers were pushing a button to activate the sirens.

“It’s a complex computer system, as they were pushing the button is when the power started flickering in the building,” Sigman said. “They just immediately went to the back room and used a different server and it (siren warning) went out.”

Sigman said it was a matter of seconds. He said the siren in the Alum Creek area did activate.

The Metro 911 Center is located near the National Weather Service Charleston office and both were almost directly in the path of the tornado.

Sigman said the alert system is designed with redundancies. He said two alerts were almost immediate.

“The fastest system out there is our KC Ready app and the wireless emergency alert from the National Weather Service,” Sigman said. “Those went off really quick. That was my first notice.”

Kanawha County also has a phone call emergency alert system. Sigman said that was somewhat slower.

“It takes a little longer to activate because it’s calling so many phones. A-third of the phones were not answered. That slows the system down because the calls have to ring longer to get the (answering machine) message,” he said.

Sigman said the warning of the tornado and the response will be reviewed in the weeks ahead
He said there’s usually a tornado watch before a tornado warning but that wasn’t the case this time because of the quickness with which the twister developed.

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