A tsunami warning was accidentally broadcast in Alaska on Friday, causing confusion among local citizens, officials say. It marks the third mistake this year involving the U.S. warning system.
The incident happened just after 7 a.m. local time when a message from the Emergency Alert System appeared on TV and radio channels in Alaska, advising that a tsunami warning was in effect.
“The National Weather Service has issued a TSUNAMI WARNING for the following counties or areas: Alaska, at 7:02 AM on May 11, 2018,” the message said.
The alert caused confusion among local residents. Jennifer Williams, the news director for KSRM, said the radio station was receiving calls from residents to ask about the warning.
The mistake happened during an internal test to determine transmission times for the dissemination of tsunami warnings, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center. “We are investigating this issue,” the center said.
There is no Tsunami Warning currently for Alaska and/or the West Coast. We issued a routine communications test message at 7am AKST that has been misinterpreted. We are investigating this issue. Repeat: There is NO Tsunami Warning— NWS Tsunami Alerts (@NWS_NTWC) May 11, 2018
Friday’s false alert did not affect the entire warning system.
The Warning Center says warning sirens may be going off in coastal areas. Alerts were also broadcast on radio and television stations.
The Alaska State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) says they are working with the Emergency Alert System vendor and the Tsunami Warning System partners to identify why a test message was transmitted as a warning event.
The U.S. warning system has experienced a number of mistakes this year. Most notably, a missile attack warning was mistakenly issued for Hawaii on January 13, causing widespread panic as people sought shelter.
In February, a tsunami warning was accidentally sent through third parties to a number of people along the U.S. East Coast. AccuWeather blamed the National Weather Service for causing the mistake, saying they had coded a test message as a real warning.