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Emory apologizes for issuing bogus tornado warning | News

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Emory apologizes for issuing bogus tornado warning
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ATLANTA-- Emory University has apologized for mistakenly issuing a tornado warning during Tuesday night's storms. The university initially said it did so out of what it called an abundance of caution – even though there were no tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

Emory issued the warning on Twitter, on its text and email alerts, and folks at Emory say the university even sounded warning sirens – all for a tornado warning that wasn't.

There was, unquestionably, strong weather Tuesday night. A string of thunderstorms delivered winds as high as 70 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service. Around 9pm, the Weather Service's radar detected something around Kennesaw called a tornado vortex signature. Meteorologists at the Peachtree City NWS started analyzing it, find that "yes, while there was some weak rotation in there, it was not a valid signature for a tornado warning," said Keith Stellman of the NWS.

Although the weather service dismissed it as an anomaly, a contractor hired by Emory University did not. The contractor used the university alert system to say that "a tornado warning has been issued for the Emory Campus. Seek shelter."

"I took it seriously," said Emory senior Eugenie Hagemann. She said she called her mom and bolted for a friend's place.

"I had a cat and packed it up and left my apartment actually. I wasn't going to take any risks," Hagemann said.

An hour later, Emory lifted the campus tornado warning. A half day later, Emory apologized for the bogus tornado warning.

"A consistent message is always the best message because it can lead to confusion if it is inconsistent," Stellman said.

Stellman said rogue weather warnings tend to undermine the credibility of genuine alerts. Emory said it would review its internal processes to make sure such a warning isn't issued again.

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