Afternoon and Evening Statewide Tests of Tornado Warning EAS Code on April 14, 2016

From the Wisconsin EAS Committee:

In cooperation with Wisconsin Emergency Management, the National Weather Service will conduct two tests of the real Tornado Warning EAS Code, one in the afternoon and a second one in the evening, on April 14, 2016 as part of Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week. The State of Wisconsin has received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code for these statewide tests. If there is a threat of severe weather at the time of the afternoon test, then both the afternoon and evening tests will be postponed until April 15, 2016. If there is severe weather on April 15, the tests will be canceled. If the afternoon test runs on April 14, but the evening test is canceled due to the threat of severe weather, the evening test will not be rescheduled to the next day – it will just be canceled.

This is the first year a second test is being added in the evening hours, as our neighbors in Minnesota have been doing for years. Broadcast stations and cable systems are encouraged to carry both of these tests, and forward their opinions on this new testing regime to the Wisconsin EAS Committee following the tests. Participation in these tests is not required by FCC rules, but is requested for public awareness.

The audio of these tests will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test”, but because the real EAS Tornado Warning Code is being sent, the crawl on TV stations and cable systems will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…”. Thus we ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators making the decision to air these tests should display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl. 

The tests will be originated on NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), and will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations. The EAS “TOR” Code will be sent independently by all five NWS offices serving Wisconsin, following the schedule below. Broadcasters and cable operators that monitor SR or LP stations from multiple EAS Operational Areas, or directly monitor NWR from another EAS Operational Area, may receive more than one Tornado Warning alert for each test; since these alerts are sent independently from each NWS office they will not be recognized by EAS units as duplicates if alerts are received from two different EAS Operational Areas. It is also possible that some NWR stations may broadcast more than one TOR Code for each test as some NWR stations serve counties from more than one NWS office.

As a condition of granting Wisconsin a waiver to use the real TOR Tornado Warning code for these tests, the FCC stipulates that broadcasters and cable operators should air informational announcements to the public in advance of the test so that citizens are not misled when the test airs saying “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…” Accordingly, we ask that broadcasters and cable operators begin carrying informational announcements one week prior to the April 14th test (PSAs, mention in your news stories, weather reports, etc.)

This will be the schedule for the two tests run on April 14, 2016
(or if there is severe weather on April 14, both tests will be conducted on April 15, 2016)
(if the afternoon test runs on April 14, but the evening test is canceled due to the threat of severe weather, the evening test will not be rescheduled to the next day – it will just be canceled):

Tornado Warning AFTERNOON TEST:
1:00PM – Tornado Watch “TOA” EAS Code issued (not aired on broadcast stations or cable)
1:45PM – Tornado Warning “TOR” EAS Code issued by all NWS offices serving Wisconsin counties*

EVENING TEST: (The TOA EAS Code will not be sent for the evening test.)
6:55PM – Tornado Warning “TOR” EAS Code issued by all NWS offices serving Wisconsin counties*

EAS Header Code parameters to be used in both tests: Originator Code: WXR
EAS Code: TOR
EAS Duration: 15 minutes

*These tests are being coordinated with the State of Minnesota. Stations and cable systems in the border area will receive both Wisconsin and Minnesota counties in the same coordinated TOR Tornado Warning EAS message at both 1:45PM and 6:55PM.

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