Americans living up and down the East Coast this morning received some terrifying news as they were preparing to start their day, thanks to yet another false push notification warning sent to their cell phones.
In cities from Boston to Charleston, Americans this morning were terrified to see an alert from weather app AccuWeather, stating that a tsunami was quickly closing in on the east coast of the United States. Panic and confusion set in quite quickly, with a number of horrified residents turning to Twitter to corroborate the warnings that they had received.
“Mike Wakefield, a Charleston data scientist who had trained as a meteorologist, said his phone started pinging with third party apps that didn’t immediately indicate the alert was a test.
“‘It got my attention,’ the West Ashley resident said, ‘but I don’t know where I’d go.'”
For many living on the East Coast, a similar sentiment was growing. The threat of an Atlantic Ocean tsunami had seemed far fetched, given that the intense energy needed to create such a disaster would likely have to come from a tectonic source, which is far more likely within the Pacific Ocean’s notorious “Ring of Fire” volcanic features.
The National Weather service was able to calm many who live on the Atlantic with a tweet indicating that there was no threat, but not without taking a shot at AccuWeather, who, in turn, fired off a raucous retort.
“AccuWeather sent the tsunami push notification about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, indicating there was a warning in effect for the next hour.
“Shortly after that, the Weather Service clarified that there was no threat and that the routine monthly test message had been misinterpreted by ‘at least one private-sector weather company as an official tsunami warning.’
“AccuWeather later pushed back.
“The company acknowledged that the content of the alert made clear it wasn’t real; it was titled, ‘TEST…Tsunami Message Number 1…TEST.'”
AccuWeather also blamed the NWS for mislabeling their monthly “test”, causing the panic at the private weather app’s home base.
To make matters worse, the popular cell phone application went on to say that this wasn’t a one-off incident of carelessness on behalf of the National Weather Service either.
“AccuWeather alleged that Tuesday’s ordeal was not the first time the Weather Service had incorrectly coded a test alert. The private forecast provider said its chief executive, Barry Myers, penned a memo to the Weather Service three years ago, calling attention to another alleged instance of an erroneous code not being caught prior to dissemination.”
For those paying attention, the false alarm warning comes at a particularly peculiar time.
Just weeks ago, Hawaiians were terrified by a different push notification on their cellular devices that claimed an incoming ballistic missile was set to strike the island state. This particular message contained the phrase “THIS IS NOT A TEST” in all caps, as if to make sure that there would be no mistake.
Similarly, a nuclear site in North Carolina was the site of a false alarm earlier this year in which residents of the nearby neighborhoods were alerted to a possible radioactive situation. Again, this proved to be false, but it begs the question of what exactly is going on with this multitude of phony warnings in recent weeks?