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Warnings Were Delayed as Iowa Tornado Approached

But a systems analyst doubts it made much of a difference
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2022 1:06 AM CST
National Weather Service Alerts Delayed Before Deadly Iowa Tornado
Snow covers a tornado-damaged home Monday, March 7, 2022, near Winterset, Iowa, after severe weather came through the area over the weekend.   (Chelsey Lewis and Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP)

A computer glitch could have turned deadly in Iowa. Before Saturday's tornado outbreak, in which the death toll stands at 7, a government computer system was experiencing an unrelated technical problem that overloaded the network, and National Weather Service warnings were delayed as a result, the Des Moines Register reports. One warning was delayed seven minutes. But a systems analyst who tracks NWS data says most alerts were likely only delayed about three minutes, and even the most delayed messages still reached Iowans well before the slow-moving storm did.

He also notes weather radio stations and live TV were tracking the storm in real time. Even so, as a forecaster notes, a glitch that normally may not have even been noticed by the average resident "went down at the worst possible time." In addition to the family that lost four members in the tragedy, an Iowa grandfather died while protecting his wife of two decades, lying on top of her in the bathtub to shield her, KCRG reports. The Register has the names of all the victims. "The deadly tornado outbreak in Iowa on March 5 was heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones," an NWS spokesperson says. (More Iowa stories.)

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