Sep 242008
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

In what was supposed to be an internal emergency test, the CSU Police Department sent an e-mail to the campus Tuesday warning them of an approaching tornado that did not exist.

After successfully conducting a test of their emergency phone alert system, the department drafted the message to test the emergency e-mail alert system, police said.

The message did not indicate that it was meant to be a test.

“We thought that we had hit the cancel button, but (we) inadvertently clicked send,” said Dexter Yarbrough, CSU Police Chief. “On our end, we thought the message got cancelled.”

Police sent a follow-up e-mail informing the campus that the tornado was not indeed approaching Fort Collins approximately 20 minutes after the original message was sent, according to Yarbrough.

Police received a “few” calls from “people that were concerned about (the tornado),” Yarbrough said.

He said many wondered how a tornado could be approaching when there was no indication of a storm.

Callers were told that the e-mail had not been intended for distribution.

“Most people were good sports,” Yarbrough said.

The text message alert system was not tested, university spokeswoman Dell Rae Moellenburg said.

Yarbrough said the department is further looking into how to ensure that the mistake does not occur again.

News Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at

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