08.12.2005 10:07 AM
EAS Weekly Test Becomes Radiological Alert In Florida
A recent regular weekly Emergency Alert System test accidentally became a radiological alert when an operator at the National Weather Service's Tallahassee, Florida forecast office accidentally entered the header ID code "RHW" instead of "RWT," keying a radiological hazard warning instead of the required weekly test. The warning was broadcast to the Florida panhandle and parts of southern Georgia
Panic did not ensue as the audio accompanying the message still identified it as "only a test," and the office moved quickly to alert broadcasters of the false alarm.
A similar glitch at a Las Vegas radio station a day earlier falsely alerted cable companies, radio and TV stations in five counties to a national emergency that didn't exist. KXTE-FM tried to send out a message canceling an earlier Amber Alert, but instead transmitted an emergency action notification -- the special EAN code reserved for the president of the United States to use in the event of a nuclear war or similar extreme national emergency.
The National Weather Service has instituted a code verification check for its operators and The FCC is in currently reviewing the EAS network.