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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It was a scary sight for many who caught a glimpse of the sky over our area this afternoon. The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least one funnel cloud was spotted near UNCW and Wrightsville Beach.

The funnel clouds, though an alarming sight, did not produce any tornadoes. In response, UNCW sent out a tornado warning alert that has students and the National Weather Service wondering if it was warranted.

“It didn’t seem like it affected many of the people because they were still out in the ocean and laying out,” said Colette Blake, a UNCW student.

Around 4:25 p.m. Monday, UNCW issued a tornado warning to faculty and students, alerting them to seek shelter and stay away from windows despite the National Weather Service never issuing a warning of their own.

“It might have been a little premature, but I think it’s better than doing it too late,” says Lydia Strachan, a UNCW student.

About 20 minutes later, UNCW sent another alert giving the all clear. According to a UNCW spokesperson, the university chose to send a pre-scripted tornado warning instead of a custom message to alert students faster. However, some say the confusion and panic may not have been worth it.

“With parents having their students here, they could be freaking out too if they get the emails or see something,” Blake says. “So I feel like they do need to edit their emails before sending them out.”

Fortunately, the storm cell moved off shore and there were no touchdowns or reported damage, just Mother Nature putting on a show.

A forecaster from the National Weather Service says UNCW should not be sending out warnings unless it is first issued by the NWS.

Comment on this Story

  • GuestThomas

    I am glad that UNCW has a system in place to notify the students of potentially dangerous situations. But a simple alert message (along with the alarm that sounded loudly) would have been enough. If there had been a tornado, I am confident that the highly educated meteorologists of the National Weather Service here in Wilmington would have issued a warning. Please leave the warnings to the professionals who have a sophisticated radar and years of training.

  • Guest00000

    And this affected or inconvenienced you how?? You’re an idiot.

  • Guest4576

    In our “hindsight” world, we can criticize UNCW all we want for releasing a warning “prematurely”. But if they hadn’t and it did touch down, who would be around to deal with the law suits and criticism they would have received. And if it did become a tornado, would they have been credited for acting decisively and for saving lives? And as far as the NWS – how about all those victims in the mid-west that were waiting for our government to make the call and didn’t get it – how arrogant of that “forecaster”! I think UNCW acted appropriately and commend them!

  • Abby

    I am glad UNCW to the extra step to send out a warning to it’s staff and students. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

    Now if they hadn’t issued a warning and a tornado did touch down and students and staff were injured or killed everyone who have blamed the university for not issuing a warning.

    Good for UNCW for issuing the warning! You did the right thing and took the extra step to ensure the safety for your students and staff.

  • Guest111

    The purpose of the warning system is to WARN students. Sounding the warning alert was absolutely the right thing to do. Good for UNCW.


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