HOMER — In September 2014, the National Weather System sent out a false tsunami alarm, triggering tsunami warning sirens in Homer. As happened last Saturday in Hawaii when a technician clicked the wrong box on a program and sent out text alerts of an impending missile attack, the 2014 glitch also happened when a live code got sent out inadvertently. With increased tension over a possible nuclear missile attack from North Korea, those events raise the question: Could a false alert of a missile attack be sent out in Alaska, and if so, how fast would it be corrected? Chances are slim that local authorities would send out a false message like the one that sent Hawaii residents into a panic, Dan Nelson, program manager at Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, said.
“We’re confident that a similar event such as what happened in Hawaii won’t happen here,” he said.
Local emergency management agencies only have the authority to send out messages within their geographic jurisdictions, meaning any missile alert would have to get cleared on a state level before any related local warnings went out.
“The borough partners with the state and federal authorities for these types of warnings, but it would be very rare for the local office to send out something of this magnitude,” Nelson said.
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