False Alarm Terrifies and Terrorizes Hawaii

January 13, 2018 1:54 p.m.

We still have no clear explanation, certainly no good explanation, other than that it was a false alarm. But just after 8 AM this morning in Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on television and mobile devices warning of an incoming missile attack on the state. It was explicitly alerted as “not a drill.” Again, it was a false alarm. 

Twitter immediately lit up with people sending screen grabs of what appeared to be, in fact what was, a warning of an imminent attack (albeit an erroneous one). Within what I estimate was perhaps 20 minutes the first news that it was a false alarm began to be spread on Twitter by state elected officials and then state emergency management officials. I’m not clear on how long the alert remained current before being officially countermanded or called off over the same emergency alert channels, but it seems to have been just under 40 minutes.

The initial message was stark an unambiguous. Here’s what people in the state saw on their iPhones …

Here is what people heard on television …

The clearest explanation we’ve received so far is that this was “human error” and that the state was in the midst of conducting a drill when the error was made.

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