Some South Carolina residents may have been startled to get a tsunami alert on Wednesday after an apparent miscommunication between federal meteorologists and weather news providers.
The Associated Press reports the push alert went to phones across the East Coast, including Charleston and Myrtle Beach. However, the National Weather Service said the alert was just a test. The agency said the glitch came during a routine test, but some users received what looked like an actual warning on their phones. NWS is trying to sort what happened.
Officials said it appeared to be an issue with the popular Accuweather app, but the app’s maker disputes that. In a release, Accuweather said the notification it got used the code for an actual tsunami and the word “test” was in the header, which is not part of its embedded algorithm.
“We understand the reason for test messages, but we feel that NWS consider fail safe measures for the future to prevent such an occurrence,” Accuweather CEO Barry Myers said. “The issuance did say it was a “TSUNAMI WARNING,” but it was not a tsunami warning, rather simply a test of the system. We note that the method currently used of relying on the “TEST” in the header of the product… has proven to be a less than perfect system.”
NWS spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said the message was properly coded. She said the agency is working with private sector companies to determine why some systems did not recognize the coding.