New York

No, There Is No Tsunami Warning for NYC — National Weather Service Investigating Errant Alert

The National Weather Service said it is looking into how a message went out as a tsunami warning

What to Know

  • People from the Upper West Side to Connecticut to South Carolina to Texas erupted in panic early Tuesday after they got a tsunami warning
  • A tsunami test was conducted, the National Weather Service said, adding it is looking into how the message went out as a warning
  • Users complained it took four clicks in some cases to find out it was just a test and that there was no actual threat

No, there is not a tsunami warning for Manhattan. Or Brooklyn. Or Queens or Staten Island or the Bronx. But you may have gotten an alert about one. 

People from the Upper West Side to Connecticut to South Carolina to Texas erupted in panic early Tuesday after they received an AccuWeather push alert about a tsunami warning. Users complained it wasn't clear at first glance that the alert, which cited the National Weather Service, was a test.

One woman tweeted a photo of the alert, which read: "Tsunami warning in effect for Upper West Side, NY until 9:28 AM EST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service." That user, @WestSideYenta, said it took four clicks to find out the alert was just a test, and congratulated "the Hawaiian Missile Alert Guy on his new gig."

Another user in Queens tweeted a photo of the same alert issued for Ozone Park. When you click through, it says the message is for test purposes only, but the user said when the notification popped up on his phone he only saw the alert.

Amid a flurry of horrified complaints, the National Weather Service in New York clarified in all caps around 9 a.m. Tuesday "****THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING***" A follow-up tweet said a tsunami test was conducted earlier Tuesday that did have "TEST" in the message.

"We are currently trying to find out how a message went out as a warning," the tweet said. "We will update you when we find out more."

The National Weather Service in Charleston, South Carolina, sent out a similar tweet around 8:45 a.m., saying it was a monthly tsunami warning test from the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center (@NWS_NTWC). 

"We have been notified that some users received this test message as an actual Tsunami Warning. A Tsunami Warning is not in effect. Repeat, a Tsunami Warning is not in effect," the tweet said.

Other local weather offices said the @NWS_NTWC test message somehow triggered weather apps on many phones to send what looked like an actual alert. It's not clear how many people received one. 

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center said in a tweet that it did not issue a tsunami warning, watch or advisory for any part of the U.S. or Canada Tuesday.

AccuWeather blamed the National Weather Service for the false alarm, saying the weather service "miscoded" a test message as a real warning. The word "TEST" was in the header of the message, but the private forecaster said it passes along weather service warnings based on a computer scan of codes. 

"Tsunami warnings are handled with the utmost concern by AccuWeather and it has sophisticated algorithms to scan the entire message, not just header words, as from the time of a warning to the actual event can be mere minutes," the forecaster said in a statement. 

"AccuWeather was correct in reading the mistaken NWS codes embedded in the warning. The responsibility is on the NWS to properly and consistently code the messages, for only they know if the message is correct or not," AccuWeather said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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