Cause of outage that knocked out weather radio alerts still under investigation

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - For nearly 19 hours Sunday, six Central Florida counties were without the National Weather Service’s weather radio alert service.

The outage started just before a severe line of storms moved through the state, leaving a large swath of property damage and two people dead in Manatee County.

The outage was noticed at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday and affected Volusia, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Polk and Osceola counties.

The NWS broadcast equipment was fully operational, but a phone circuit between it and the transmitter kept weather alerts from being aired, the weather service said.

The phone circuit is owned by Verizon and serviced by AT&T.

The outage caused a precarious situation before the early-morning storm system, WFTV meteorologist Rusty McCranie said.

“It’s a dangerous scenario because weather radios can sometimes be the first line of information for the public,” he said.

The NWS reported that personnel contacted Verizon every two hours from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., when service was restored.

No information was released on the cause of the phone circuit failure.

The NWS warned that the weather radio alert service cannot be guaranteed to be operational 100 percent of the time and residents should have additional alerts in place.