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UPDATE: AccuWeather shifts blame for false tsunami alert

(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 6, 2018 at 9:31 AM CST
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12:35 p.m.

A private forecasting company is blaming the National Weather Service for a false tsunami alert sent to users' mobile phones Tuesday morning.

AccuWeather says the weather service "miscoded" a test message as a real warning. Users of the popular AccuWeather app then got a false tsunami alert. The message was sent to users throughout the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The State College, Pennsylvania-based company says the weather service has a responsibility to "properly and consistently code the messages, for only they know if the message is correct or not."

The weather service has said it's looking into why the test message was transmitted as a real alert. Weather service officials didn't immediately respond to AccuWeather's assertions.

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12:05 p.m.

The National Weather Service says a private company took a routine test message and sent it to people's phones as an official tsunami warning.

The National Tsunami Warning Center sent a test message around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Users of the popular AccuWeather app then got a false tsunami alert. The message was sent to users throughout the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The tsunami warning center is part of the National Weather Service, which says it's investigating why the test message was sent as an official warning. The weather service says the false alert didn't appear on any of its communication channels.

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

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9:40 a.m.

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. Accuweather didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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.