CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The app Accuweather blames the National Weather Service for the misfire of an app alert which led some to believe that a tsunami was headed toward Charleston Tuesday morning.
The company said the alert was "miscoded" by the NWS which led to the Accuweather system reading the test as a real warning.
"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," the company said in a statement. "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 NWS warning also later appeared on other sources such as The Weather Channel and it even appears on some pages of the NWS own website as a real warning. The NWS is the original source of the information and displayed it as a real warning."
The statement goes on to say that its the responsibility of the NWS to code the messages correctly. Accuweather later sent out a notification correcting the information.
"The test message was not disseminated to the public via any communication channels operated by the National Weather Service," the NWS said in a statement. " We are currently looking into why the test message was distributed by at least one private sector company and will provide more information as soon as we have it."
Accuweather claims its CEO wrote the NWS three years ago in response to a similar incident in October 2014.
On Tuesday night, AccuWeather said officials further reviewed recent NWS statements related to the miscoded NWS tsunami warning, and stands by its original conclusion.
The National Tsunami Warning Center issued a monthly test message at approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a tweet from the Charleston office of the National Weather Service. But some users received what appeared to be an actual tsunami warning on their devices.
"I just decided at that point to text my family and loved ones, telling them to be safe and that I loved them," alert recipient and North Charleston resident Caine Henry said.
A Tsunami warning is NOT in effect for Charleston according to officials with the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Hendricus Lulofs with the National Weather Service told the Associated Press there was a glitch Tuesday during a routine test. That meant some people received what looked like an actual warning on their phones.
"This really could have created a panic for the Charleston area and other areas that were affected by this," Henry said.
He says the National Weather Service is trying to sort what happened.
The false warning was more widespread than the Charleston area. People across the East and Gulf Coasts received the erroneous push alerts on their phones. National Weather Service offices from Houston to New Jersey tweeted out messages to people in their areas to notify them the warning had been sent out in error and that no tsunami warning was in effect.
The New York Office of the National Weather Service issued a tweet at 9:05 a.m. stating they were trying to find out how a message went out as a warning.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division considers Charleston a tsunami-ready county according to its response plan.
The Charleston earthquake of 1886 produced a small, non-destructive tsunami. The run-ups for the event measured between 0.5 and 20 inches. Tsunami run-up over three feet is considered dangerous to people and property according to the plan.
This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for more updates.