FALSE tsunami warnings flashed on cellphones along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts early on Tuesday morning when a U.S. National Weather Service – NWS, systems test went awry, unnerving Americans from Maine to Texas.
The false alerts appeared to have been sent out by the private forecasting company AccuWeather, according to cellphone images posted on social media. AccuWeather pointed the finger at the NWS.
The NWS and the Federal Communications Commission said they were investigating.
The National Weather Service said its National Tsunami Warning Center had issued a routine monthly test message that had been misconstrued, spooking people in cities as far apart as Boston and Houston.
At least some people who clicked the alert to read the full message saw a disclaimer saying the alert was in fact a test, according to screenshots posted online.
AccuWeather said the National Weather Service had wrongly coded the test as a real warning, confusing its automated alerts system.
AccuWeather said it had warned the National Weather Service in 2014 of this vulnerability after a similar error.