BOSTON (WHDH/AP) — A routine National Weather Service test on Tuesday resulted in a false push notification to mobile phones about a tsunami warning, giving jolt to many residents on the East Coast.
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.
Officials said it appeared to be an issue with the popular Accuweather app. A screenshot of the alert sent out by the AccuWeather app said, “Tsunami Warning in effect until 9:28 AM EST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service.”
In a statement, Accuweather blamed the NWS for the bogus warning.
“This morning AccuWeather passed on a National Weather Service Tsunami Warning that was intended by the NWS to be a test but was miscoded by the NWS as a real warning. AccuWeather has the most sophisticated system for passing on NWS tsunami warnings based on a complete computer scan of the codes used by the NWS. While the words “TEST” were in the header, the actual codes read by computers used coding for real warning, indicating it was a real warning.”
The weather service said it’s looking into why the test message was transmitted as a real alert. It did not immediately respond to AccuWeather’s assertions.
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.
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.
Once the alert is clicked on, a message pops up saying that the alert is for test purposes only. The message was sent to phones throughout the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
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