Edmonton

Environment Canada automated tornado warning hard to understand

The voice message warned of tornado activity in Lacombe and Ponoka counties but the pronunciation and cadence of the automated voice made the message incomprehensible.

Albertans confused by distorted weather alerts during tornado warning

Kaycee Lloyd (left) listens to a recording of the tornado warnings issued Thursday afternoon. (CBC)

A tornado warning that aired in Alberta late Thursday afternoon was so garbled that people couldn't understand what communities were at risk.

The voice message warned of tornado activity in Lacombe and Ponoka counties but the pronunciation and cadence of the automated voice made the message incomprehensible.

Kaycee Lloyd said the warning is not clear enough to help.

The issue is close to Lloyd's heart. Lloyd's mother was badly injured in the massive tornado that levelled the Evergreen mobile home park in 1987.

"There was nothing back then. So it's nice to have this, definitely,  but it definitely needs to be more clear," she said.

"I'm panicked because of what my mom went through. It never went away. She was destroyed by that."

CBC Meteorologist Cory Edel said garbled messages can cause problems in a life or death situation such as a tornado.

"People need to know the message very quickly," he said. "They can't spend time trying to decipher what the message is."

The alert that caused such confusion on Thursday wasn't generated by Alberta Emergency Management Agency, which has come under criticism in the past for audio issues.

Instead, the message came from Alert Ready which is run by Environment Canada.

The province plans to work with Environment Canada to get both systems working better together.

Improvements were made to the Alberta emergency alert system following complaints two years ago.

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