Cellphone app alert about East Coast tsunami was a misfire, Weather Service says

A routine National Weather Service test Tuesday resulted in a false push notification to mobile phones warning of a tsunami, giving a jolt to many residents on the East Coast.

A misfire meant some people received what looked like an actual warning, NWS meteorologist Hendricus Lulofs said. The weather service is trying to sort out what went wrong, he said.

Officials said it appeared to be an issue with the popular Accuweather app. Accuweather didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jeremy DaRos of Portland, Maine, said the alert made him “jump” because he lives a stone's throw from the water and was aware of a recent spate of small earthquakes that made the alert seem plausible.

“Looking out the window and seeing the ocean puts you in a different frame of mind when you get a tsunami warning,” he said. He said that after clicking on the push notification for details he realized it was just a test.

This is the latest in a spate of false alarms in the past month.

A Hawaii state employee mistakenly sent an alert warning of a ballistic missile attack on Jan. 13. And, a malfunction triggered sirens at a North Carolina nuclear power plant on Jan. 19.

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