NWS: technical issue with weather radio signal at time of storm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
For the first time since last week's snow, the National Weather Service is acknowledging some people were not able to hear its overnight or early morning weather alerts.
The NWS said some weather radio signals in the Chattanooga area were not working properly the morning of Tuesday's snow storm, attributing a problem with some of the phone lines used to send those alerts.
"Our transmissions are carried by phone lines to all of our transmitters," said NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Anthony Cavallucci. "We determined it was a phone line problem and contacted the phone company."
The NWS near Knoxville issued a Winter Weather Advisory at 2:22 a.m. Tuesday, which was reported by Channel 3. Cavallucci said NWS troubleshooters determined some signals were down and contacted the phone companies within 20 minutes.
"It's out of the user's hands, and it's kind of out of the weather service's hands at that point," he said.
Like most of the Tennessee Valley, the winter storm took Discovery Pointe Child Development Center in Ooltewah by surprise.
The center had its weather radio turned on later that morning, but they did not catch the advisory that went out overnight.
"At least 90 percent of our parents weren't prepared for this," said director, Wendy Rogers.
Rogers said the child care center, which is located on a curvy and hilly two-lane road, was surrounded by wrecks, and parents were attempting to walk in the roads to pick up their children.
Rogers and fellow employee, Heather Hanson, helped bring students that were stuck at Smith Elementary School back to the bottom of the hill.
"A couple of them were really distressed about what was going on," Hanson said.
Both AT&T and Verizon told Channel 3 they were not aware of line interruptions or reception issues at the time of the storm.
The NWS urges weather radio users to rely on multiple sources of weather information in case future technical issues arise.