Kansas Turnpike Authority responds to confusion about tornado warning tweets



TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Almost 12,000 of the Kansas Turnpike Authority’s Twitter followers were notified of tornado warnings in Kansas Tuesday night. Drivers on Tuesday night also saw notifications about a tornado warning from the K.T.A. on their signs near the Turnpike. The problem is, the National Weather Service didn’t see any signs of a tornado in the area on their radar creating confusion.

“It’s frustrating to see such a large group of us in the weather community who work together hand-in-hand and then a message gets sent out basically kind of going off in a different direction of a different message,” KSNT News’ Storm Track Meteorologist, Matt Miller said.

Tweets from the Kansas Turnpike Authority stated there were warnings between mile markers 177 and 192 and even between mile markers 165 and 178. These markers are on I-70 and I-335. These types of inconsistencies can make meteorologists lose their credibility.

“We don’t want to keep throwing out a lot of bogus tornado warnings or ‘oh-it’s-possible-you-can’t-rule-it-out’ kind of warnings because over time that’s viewed as crying wolf,” Miller said.

And this isn’t the first time the K.T.A. has sent out different information than the National Weather Service on their social media.

A few weeks ago, the K.T.A. sent out tweets telling their followers there was a tornado warning on 1-70 near Lawrence. It was also on their emergency signs along the highway.

The K.T.A. uses their own forecasting company — Accuweather. But, meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Topeka say it’s important to remain consistent.

“We’re the official voice of the National Weather Service,” National Weather Service Meteorologist in Topeka, Jeff John said. “Our mission of protection of life and property. We’ve been issuing warnings for a long time.”

KSNT News reached out to K.T.A. and spoke to one of their employees who tell us the Accuweather is an accurate source.

“When it comes to the tornado warnings, we’re not going to text or tweet out that information,” CEO of the K.T.A, Steve Hewitt said. “We made a policy change today, we really looked at this info and don’t want to create confusion to the public.”

We reached out to Accuweather to find out their thoughts on the K.T.A. no longer using them to update their social media apps and not being consistent with the national weather service. KSNT News has not heard back from them yet.

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