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A leftover fallout shelter sign in New York City from the Cold War. Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Hawaii's false alarm about an imminent missile attack isn't the first time a glitch made it look like the missiles were on the way. There were some even scarier false alarms during the Cold War that could have easily led to nuclear holocaust if military officials hadn't figured them out.

A few of the worst ones, as told in "Raven Rock," author Garrett Graff's account of the U.S. government's plans to survive a nuclear war:

  • November 1979: NORAD computers detected what appeared to be hundreds of Soviet missiles headed toward the U.S. It turned out that someone had accidentally stuck a training tape into the computer system.
  • June 1980: The computers appeared to show 2,200 incoming Soviet missiles — "a full-scale general nuclear attack." This time, the alarm was blamed on the failure of a 46-cent computer chip.
  • September 1983: Soviet warning systems showed five U.S. missiles that appeared to be heading toward the Soviet Union. In reality, its satellites saw the sun's reflection off of clouds and thought it was a missile launch. 

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

5 hours ago - World

North Korea launches 4th suspected missile test this month

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, of an apparent North Korean missile test on Monday morning local time. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired "two suspected short-range ballistic missiles" eastward from Pyongyang on Monday morning local time, per South Korean and Japanese officials.

Why it matters: The fourth such launch since Jan. 5 comes days after North Korea's military warned of "stronger" action if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.

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