NWS issues false tornado watch, blames cyber attack

NWS issues false tornado watch, blames cyber attack
Published: Nov. 12, 2014 at 4:37 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2014 at 9:41 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A wide-spread tornado false alarm has many people in the Mid-South questioning a federal weather alert system.

Around 5:00 Wednesday morning, the NOAA-National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center (SPC) sent out tornado watch alerts for many parts of the Mid-South.

"It's scary, because I have a family," Bridgett Smith said.

Normally, the SPC sends out alerts and the WMC Action News 5 meteorologists interprets what those alerts mean for you. This morning our team told you immediately that those alerts were wrong.

Shortly after the alerts went out, the National Weather Service sent another message saying the tornado watch notification "did not appear to be originating from the SPC."

NOAA told WMC Action News 5 that four of their websites have been compromised after an online attack.

They say Wednesday's alert was actually an alert from 2010.

"We need the correct information," Smith said.

The WMC Action News 5 Storm Tracking Team spent the morning online and on social media explaining that the tornado warnings were not accurate.

"Severe weather wasn't even on the radar so to speak," Managing Meteorologist Ron Childers said. "Those of us in the know knew automatically there was a flaw with the system somewhere."

Meanwhile, NOAA says they were performing maintenance to mitigate the cyber attack when the alert went live.

"I think we can rest assured the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center will make sure a breach like this doesn't happen again," Childers said.

NOAA assures us all services have been fully restored.

They say the attack did not prevent them from delivering forecasts to the public and that the investigation continues with the appropriate authorities.

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