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Evening tornado warning was only a test

WORTHINGTON -- When the tornado sirens sounded at 6:55 p.m. Thursday, it created quite a stir among local residents who were tuned into their cable television stations.

The sirens sounded as part of Thursday's Tornado Drill Day, and was meant to encourage families at home to practice their response in case of a real emergency. But cable channels failed to mention it was a drill, instead directing viewers to tune in to their local access channel for further information.

On Knology, viewers were told there was a tornado warning for Nobles, Rock and Pipestone counties until 7:25 p.m.

Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening said Thursday night that the county's dispatch center received about 10 calls from concerned citizens -- including a nurse at a local nursing home and a police chief in a neighboring community.

"I'm not sure where the miscommunication came into play," Wilkening said. "I don't know where cable TV gets their information from."

The evening tornado drill test is an annual event, conducted during Minnesota's Severe Weather Awareness Week. A drill was also conducted at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, but that one included notification on cable TV that it was only a test.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at farmbleat.areavoices.com.

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