Tsunami Warning Goes Out by Mistake in Connecticut - NBC Connecticut

Tsunami Warning Goes Out by Mistake in Connecticut



    Tsunami False Alert Triggers Questions

    After a mistaken tsunami alert for Connecticut, a Yale geologist explained why a tsunami here isn't likely.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018)

    A tsunami warning sent to some mobile devices Tuesday morning was sent in error, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service.

    Around 8:30 a.m. some mobile devices along the Connecticut shoreline received the erroneous tsunami warning. The National Weather Service in Boston confirmed the alert was an error and that there is no tsunami threat for New England.

    The alert reportedly went out to locations throughout the East Coast. AccuWeather, which transmitted the message, said that there was no threat to the East Coast and that the message was actually a routine test message sent by the National Weather Service.

    In a statement, AccuWeather explained that the test was sent out by accident due to a computer coding issues.

    "AccuWeather has the most sophisticated system for passing on NWS tsunami warnings based on a complete computer scan of the codes used by the NWS. While the words "TEST" were in the header, the actual codes read by computers used coding for real warning, indicating it was a real warning," the statement read.

    This is not the first time a tsunami alert has gone out in error in Connecticut - in 2015 a routine test message was transmitted through local emergency alert systems.

    AccuWeather said that they warned the NWS in writing about the potential for this kind of problem in October 2014, and will continue to work with the agency to investigate how the incorrectly coded message was released.

    “Hearing right away of a tsunami alert in Connecticut, you right away as a geoscientist, I think well you know nothing’s impossible, but that’s not a very likely situation,” Yale University Geology and Geophysics Professor Maureen Long said about the alert sent Tuesday.

    Massive and destructive ocean waves, known as tsunamis, are typically caused by earthquakes or underwater disturbances and Long said that type of activity is rare in the Atlantic Ocean.

    “We do not have a lot of areas around the Atlantic Ocean basin that are prone to large earthquakes, which is typically what triggers a tsunami,” Long said. “Now, that’s in contrast to the Pacific Ocean basin and here on this map you can see locations of earthquakes and volcanos.”

    In southern New England, Long Island and the Sound are natural barriers that protect much of the Connecticut coast. 

    “So there are a couple of aspects of just the geography that make us even less susceptible here in Connecticut,” Long said.

    NBC Connecticut has reached out to the National Weather Service for further information.

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