KTA and AccuWeather stand by tornado warnings


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) and AccuWeather defend their use of tornado alerts via social media during Tuesday’s weather.

KSNT News, The National Weather Service (NWS) and Shawnee County Emergency Management say that the alerts should not have been put out.

“We don’t want to keep throwing out a lot of bogus tornado warnings,” says KSNT News’ Meteorologist Matt Miller. “Because over time that’s viewed as crying wolf.”

Even though the KTA says they will no longer relay AccuWeather tornado warnings via text alerts or social media, they will post warnings to their digital road signs.

“They are the experts in their fields, they work with companies across the company and we stand behind them.” says KTA CEO Steve Hewitt.

AccuWeather’s Senior Vice President Michael Smith sent KSNT News a few satellite images of yesterday’s weather activity. “There is more than one type of tornado. The Greensburg-type tornado was a “supercell” tornado, the most intense type,” he says. “Without going into the entire physics of tornadoes, there is a type of tornado known to meteorologists as a QLCS tornado, or ‘squall line tornado’ for the lay person. That was the type of tornado situation last night.


Other neighboring states issue warnings through the National Weather Service. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority relies almost exclusively on the NWS when issuing warnings on social media and their digital message boards.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spokesman called the national weather service “the most accurate and dependable” source.

The NWS is also the source used by Missouri’s Department of Transportation for warnings they post to their digital message boards.

Here is a written statement by KTA Director Richard Carleson:

“Both the National Weather Service and AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions provide valuable weather information but they serve different audiences. The Kansas Turnpike Authority utilizes AccuWeather for very focused, mile marker-specific weather information for its 236-mile roadway. The KTA began using AccuWeather in 2004 and is confident that the information provided by AccuWeather helps KTA prepare for and respond to weather events.

In light of the recent confusion regarding tornado warnings, the KTA has decided to no longer relay AccuWeather tornado warnings to a broad social media audience. But it will continue to relay the mile marker-by-mile marker AccuWeather warnings for posting on KTA’s road side digital message signs.”

Unlike the KTA, The Kansas Department of Transportation does not have an automated weather alert system. But they do post ongoing weather events such as snow/ice on the road and flooding.

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