False tsunami alerts spook Americans, prompting official probe

Elias Hubbard
February 6, 2018

In a statement, the service said that during a routine test of the tsunami alert system, the test was released by a private sector company leading to a widespread warning all along the East Coast.

The weather service has said it's looking into why the test message was transmitted as a real alert.

Eyebrows were raised around 8:30 a.m., February 6, when a text message from the National Weather Service stated there was a tsunami warning for Rehoboth Beach.

The false alerts, meant to be a test message, appeared to have been sent by the private forecasting company AccuWeather, according to images of the alerts posted on social media by people who said they had received them. "The National Tsunami Warning Center, part of the National Weather Service, issued a routine tsunami test message at approximately 8:30 a.m. eastern time this morning", a recorded message at the National Weather Service press office stated. We have been notified that some users received this test message as an actual Tsunami Warning. Users of the popular AccuWeather app then got a false tsunami alert.

AccuWeather didn't immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

"The test tsunami message was not disseminated to the public via any communication channels operated by the National Weather Service".

AccuWeather confirmed that there is no tsunami warning in effect for the East Coast. The message was later blamed on an employee's error.

The alerts came the month after the state of Hawaii mistakenly warned residents of the islands of an inbound missile, sparking panic.

The January 13 incident led to the resignation of the Pacific archipelago's emergency management agency chief and the firing of the worker who sent out the alert.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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