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NEW DETAILS: Madison County EMA determines why warning sirens didn’t sound during storms earlier this week

tornado siren

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Madison County EMA says it has gotten to the bottom of why outdoor warning sirens didn’t activate Tuesday night when multiple tornado warnings were issued.

Hundreds of you asked about this through email, social media, and phone calls to WHNT News 19.  The day after the storms, we took action and asked Jeff Birdwell, director of the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency, why the system failed at such critical time.

The EMA investigated over the last two days and Birdwell said they finally pinpointed the problem.

“The warning system recently underwent an upgrade to the activation software for the system. Unfortunately the upgrade did not contain a line of code needed to activate the warning system,” Birdwell said. “This has been corrected and the system is working properly. Over the next few days, Madison County EMA with the assistance of technical support will continue to monitor and test the system to ensure it is performing as expected.”

Birdwell stressed the outdoor warning system is not a catch-all system. It's designed for residents who are outside. He said residents in a well-insulated house or rooms may not hear it.  Also, if you're sleeping, it may not wake you up.

"But we do realize the importance of this system working correctly, and we’re in the beginning phases, but we’re going to get down to the root cause of what the problem is, so hopefully we don’t have this again," he said.

EMA officials urge residents to maintain multiple ways to stay alert during severe weather, including TV broadcasts, web and phone alerts and a NOAA weather radio. By the way, those also failed in these recent storms, and the National Weather Service is still working on that issue.

WHNT News 19 offers two free apps that send you automated severe weather alerts, Live Alert 19 and WHNT SAF-T-Net.