Local woman voices concern, starts petition over Emergency Alert System


by Johnny Archer


Posted on March 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 16 at 6:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- When severe weather threatens Kentuckiana, and local meteorologists are working to bring you the latest information, the Emergency Alert System may be triggered and could periodically interrupt the broadcast for several minutes - displaying black on the screen.

Samantha Hill from Valley Station said she is concerned that people who are shown the EAS alert may not be getting the best information available.

“If you need to get to your tornado safety shelter or gather the stuff, you need to go. That two to three minutes could of been the difference if you’re walking in the door and didn’t know about it,” Hill said.

WLKY general manager Glenn Haygood took a picture of the EAS screen back in January. The photo shows all four major television stations in the Louisville area broadcasting about storm in the Metro area. However, viewers who subscribe to Insight didn’t see the local stations, instead they only saw a black screen with a white Tornado Warning message.

General managers from all stations said they have been negotiating with Insight for nearly three years to override the alert so local coverage would not be interrupted.

“We’re in wall-to-wall coverage giving very detailed information saying exactly when a storm is going to hit down to the minute. And out comes this black screen from the National Weather Service with dated warnings that are nowhere as specific as ours,” WHAS11 General Manager Mark Pimentel said.

Insight officials said it's a technical issue, but would not comment specifically about the issue.

However, now that Time Warner has taken over Insight, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office said the alert system override will be one of the topics that will be negotiated in the spring.

“We think it is a valid concern. We think that all four local TV stations have a real concern. And we saw it manifest itself last week when the tornadoes came through our region,” Chris Poynter, spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor said.

After the March 2 tornadoes damaged or destroyed several communities in Kentuckiana, Hill said she went online to start a petition against having the alert system interrupt local stations during severe weather coverage. So far, Hill said she has nearly 250 people supporting her cause.

Time Warner released this statement: "As part of our operational review of the recently acquired insight systems, the company will be looking into these concerns and how we can be responsive. We believe we all share the goal of ensuring that customers receive the latest information about severe weather as quickly as possible."


Visit our Kentuckiana Tornado section for the latest photos, stories, news and info on how you can help after Friday's storms.