HOUSTON – Many got a rude awakening Tuesday morning.
A tsunami warning flashed on phones across much of nation, including here in Houston.
“We never, never get tsunami warnings,” said Houstonian Jason Lopez.
The push alert put Lopez in a panic.
“I was going to stop and go turn around and get my family and warn everybody,” said Lopez.
Lopez and everyone else who got the alert soon learned it was not legitimate.
“There is currently no tsunami warning,” said a National Weather Service spokesman on a pre-recorded message.
The NWS issued clarifications via social media and a recorded message on its hotline. It blamed Accuweather for misinterpreting a routine tsunami test.
“The tsunami test was released by at least one private sector weather company as an official tsunami warning,” said the NWS message.
“There is a risk of tsunamis in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is low,” said University of Houston Geology professor Paul Mann.
Mann says an underwater landslide caused the last big tsunami here some 7000 years ago.
It sent a massive wave of water toward the Texas coast.
“A tsumani can move at the speed of a jet aircraft, so around 600 miles per hour,” said Mann. “So we would feel it pretty quickly if it were to happen.”
That would be barely enough time for people like Jason Lopez to prepare if the next warning is for real.
“I’m not sure how they run their business or who sends out the alerts,” said Lopez.
Of course, this made many people think about that recent warning in Hawaii about an impeding missile strike.
That turned out to be a mistake.
In this case, Accuweather now acknowledges the word “test” was on the National Weather Service warning this morning.
But it said the weather service miscoded the test.