Amarillo reacts to Emergency Alert System cut-ins - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Amarillo reacts to Emergency Alert System cut-ins

During Tuesday night's severe weather coverage, on all local channels, many viewers noticed the repeated Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages breaking into the broadcast.

The alerts are issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), but the actual cut-ins are controlled by cable providers. Because Suddenlink has digital boxes, those alerts air on all of their channels every time the NWS issues a new tornado warning. These days, NWS officials issue those warnings for more specific areas rather than just a county by county basis, making those break-ins a lot more frequent as well.

 "Since we're trying to pinpoint the area a little bit more, we have to issue additional warnings on top of the ones we issues to begin with," explained NWS Meteorologist Jose Garcia. "We're trying to adjust that polygon and warn those people that are in harms way rather than large areas."

But folks on NewsChannel 10's Facebook page found it frustrating. One viewer, Kristi, said she's "grateful for the EAS's blue screen, but during severe weather, would rather see and hear a meteorologist". Others, like James, said "The alerts should be run on all other channels, not local ones".

But digital TV providers, like Suddenlink, only have the option of running the alerts on all of their channels, or none at all.  A spokesperson for the company issued this statement to NewsChannel 10 on Wednesday:

"Our emergency alert system complies with national standards for such warnings.  Traditional cable TV customers see a warning scroll across the bottom of their screen.  Digital TV customers are briefly taken to a warning screen with a text and audio message, which lasts 10 to 20 seconds before viewers are returned to normal programming.  We believe this approach can be especially helpful for customers who are not watching weather updates on a local TV station at the time of the warnings.  And for those who are watching a local station, they are (as noted) returned to that station's weather reports within 10 to 20 seconds.  We have received no customer complaints about our current system for providing these critical National Weather Service warnings."

If you are a digital TV customer, but want to avoid the EAS messages, you can unplug your cable line from the digital box and plug it directly into your TV or just use another TV in your home that's not connected to a digital box.

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