Feb 6, 2018

Test tsunami warning sent as real alert to some mobile app users

An Accuweather representative talks to two people

Users of the Accuweather app reported getting a false alert. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Federal weather authorities said Tuesday that "at least one private sector company" had released a "routine" test tsunami warning as a real alert in several regions.

The bottom line: Emergency alerts are under more scrutiny than ever because of a false ballistic missile warning sent in Hawaii last month — even though this doesn't appear to involve the same system.

What they're saying: "The National Tsunami Warning Center of the National Weather Service issued a routine test message at approximately 8:30 am ET this morning," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesperson Katherine Brogan in an email. "The test message was released by at least one private sector company as an official Tsunami Warning, resulting in widespread reports of tsunami warnings received via phones and other media across the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean."

The details:

  • Some users of the Accuweather app reported on social media that they'd received a mobile push alert about a tsunami warning. If users clicked through the message, they were reportedly informed that it was a test.
  • App push alerts are different from the Wireless Emergency Alerts system managed by the federal government, which are sent directly by wireless carriers. That's what was used in Hawaii earlier this year.
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