Provincial emergency officials admit the automated voice notification system that alerts Albertans about severe weather needs work.

The province broke into TV and radio programming Monday with an emergency alert about a possible tornado near Camrose. But some say it was impossible to make out the word "tornado" in the digitized voice message.

Colin Lloyd from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said the system needs to be improved. 

"It's not where we want it to be," Lloyd said. "It's not clear enough."

The messages are created using a computer-generated voice, which provincial officials say gets the word out faster than having someone read the text.

But Lee Darby said the message puzzled him when he heard it on television.

"The warning came on and we're looking around at each other and saying 'Can anybody else understand this?'' he said. "Because I can't."

Hearing-impaired may have problems

Edmonton audiologist Kevin Anderson worries the digitized voice may create comprehension problems for Albertans with hearing problems.

"Ten per cent of the general population have hearing loss. I think they would miss a lot of that message," Anderson said.

"In fact, they probably wouldn't get the theme of the message right off the bat."

For people over 65, Anderson said the rate of hearing loss is even greater — about 20 per cent. Camrose is a retirement community and Anderson wonders how many people understood what the warning was about, a problem in what could potentially be a life-threatening situation.

"I would say a lot of people would miss that message," he said.

The emergency alert problems on Monday weren't limited to the voice messages on TV and radio. The province is investigating why some text messages didn't get sent.