See bottom for explanation.
I'm a Facebook fan of one of my favorite radio stations, and this afternoon they posted a tornado warning for a few counties in the DC area. This piqued my interest (what a surprise), so I went to the radar to look.
No warnings. Not even any rotation.
I checked the NWS and a few other sources.
I looked at the warning archive.
No warnings since 10-13-2011.
So, I let them know and they promptly issued a retraction. The NWS office in Sterling VA (KLWX) sent out this notice to media and emergency management a little while ago:
As we currently know, at least 3 tornado warnings have been issued outside of the office for the mid Atlantic region. We are working furiously at the highest levels of our agency to find the source of these invalid alerts and stop them immediately. Please disregard any tornado warnings today in the mid Atlantic region. We will let you know the resolution of this as soon as possible.
National Weather Service
Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office
Be aware that there is NO THREAT for tornadoes anywhere across the United States today. It seems as if someone/something is sending out false tornado warnings from somewhere other than the National Weather Service. I'll keep digging around and if I find anymore information on this issue, I'll post it.
This could get interesting...
12:27 PM PT: I've updated the title to reflect potentially malicious. Not sure if it's that or something more innocuous such as a piece of malfunctioning Emergency Alert System equipment.
12:30 PM PT: This was issued about 40 minutes ago from NWS in Sterling VA:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
240 PM EDT WED OCT 26 2011
...PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...
REPORTS OF SEVERAL SEVERE THUNDERSTORM AND TORNADO WARNINGS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN STERLING.
THERE HAVE BEEN NO WARNINGS ISSUED BY THIS OFFICE...AND
ABSOLUTELY NO SEVERE WEATHER IS OCCURRING OR EXPECTED. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IS TROUBLESHOOTING THE ISSUE AT THIS TIME. TO REPEAT...NO WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT...AND NO SEVERE WEATHER OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY IS OCCURRING OR EXPECTED.
12:42 PM PT: From WUSA 9 in DC: NWS was hacked. 1:23 PM PT: And just like that, WUSA 9 in DC removes the snippet about the hacking from their story. Not sure what's up now.
The NWS issued these as test warnings and they were supposed to be labeled as such, but were accidentally coded as active warnings and sent to the public. The warnings were not supposed to leave the building, as part of a test. There was (fortunately) no hacking, and no malicious intent involved.