False Tsunami Warning Makes Waves on the East Coast
A routine National Weather Service test Tuesday resulted in a false push notification to mobile phones about a tsunami warning, giving jolt to many residents on the East Coast.
State College, Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather blamed the National Weather Service for the false alarm, saying the weather service "miscoded" a test message as a real warning. The word "TEST" was in the header of the message, but the private forecaster said it passes along weather service warnings based on a computer scan of codes.
"Tsunami warnings are handled with the utmost concern by AccuWeather and it has sophisticated algorithms to scan the entire message, not just header words, as from the time of a warning to the actual event can be mere minutes," the forecaster said in a statement."AccuWeather was correct in reading the mistaken NWS codes embedded in the warning. The responsibility is on the NWS to properly and consistently code the messages, for only they know if the message is correct or not," AccuWeather said.The weather service said earlier Tuesday that it's looking into why the test message was transmitted as a real alert. It did not immediately respond to AccuWeather's assertions.
A glitch meant some people received what looked like an actual warning, NWS meteorologist Hendricus Lulofs said. The National Weather Service is trying to sort what went wrong, he said.
Yes, we do have a tsunami warning system, and a test message was issued this morning. We are working to determine why erroneous alerts were received by some app users. There is NO tsunami threat.— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) February 6, 2018
There was a scheduled monthly test this morning. It appears some apps incorrectly alerted the test.— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) February 6, 2018
@ElainePantano This TEST message was for the entire Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. There is no Tsunami at any of these locations.— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) February 6, 2018
Officials said it appeared to be an issue with the popular Accuweather app. Accuweather didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. THey did Tweet at 8:53 a.m. that the alert was a test.
The National Weather Service Tsunami Warning this morning was a TEST. No Tsunami warning is in effect for the East Coast of the U.S.— AccuWeather (@accuweather) February 6, 2018
Jeremy DaRos, of Portland, Maine, said the alert made him "jump" because he lives a stone's throw from the water and was aware of recent spate of small earthquakes that made the alert seem plausible.
"Looking out the window and seeing the ocean puts you in a different frame of mind when you get a tsunami warning," he said. He said that after clicking on the push notification for details he realized it was just a test.
The alert sent social media into a frenzy.
Fake Tsunami Warning for us East Coasters. Cool. pic.twitter.com/LTDkIGj9bb— David Jose (@davejose) February 6, 2018
Just got an emergency message on my phone about a Tsunami warning in effect for League City TX until 8:28 a.m. I did a double take! Turns out it was just a test. Way to scare people before breakfast!! pic.twitter.com/8YVMS2oYSI— Afobos (@Afobos) February 6, 2018
This is the latest in a spate of false alarms in the past month.
A Hawaii state employee mistakenly sent an alert warning of a ballistic missile attack on Jan. 13. And, a malfunction triggered sirens at a North Carolina nuclear power plant on Jan. 19.
The similarties prompted responses poking fun at the mistake.
Hawaii missile alert guy relocated??? "Tsunami Warning"— Jim Filsinger (@jimbobo401) February 6, 2018
The tsunami warning button is that close to the 2 inches of snow and then rain button!— Joe Mirra (@jemirra17) February 6, 2018
FREE MEDIOCRE ONE-LINER FOR YOUR MORNING USE:— maura "jack and biz must be nazis" quint (@behindyourback) February 6, 2018
The National Weather Service apologized for sending a "Tsunami Warning" to all customers when it only meant to send it to [insert name of person/Co, known to the audience you're addressing, who will soon be financially underwater]
NH1 contributed material to this story.