System malfunction causes erred tsunami alert in Seaside

Residents thought a real tsunami was on the way

Jennifer Dowling and KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- People were scrambling for higher ground in Seaside after an accidental broadcast from the tsunami warning alert system warned residents that a tsunami was imminent.

It was supposed to be just a test, but a system malfunction on Wednesday at 11 a.m. accidentally told residents to evacuate because a tsunami was just 4 hours away.

The city normally does a test on the first Wednesday of every month at 11 a.m. using the 10 sirens placed along the coast through Seaside and up toward Garibaldi. They are controlled by panels at the Seaside police station.

The police did announce via Twitter earlier that a test would be happening, but after a computer system crash in December, the wrong message played out speakers placed around the city.

"We heard what we thought as the regular tsunami test, but all of a sudden it started saying, warning, this is a warning, and we thought like, 'OK, did we hear that right?'" Dave Nelson said.

In a statement from the City of Seaside, spokesperson Jon Rahl said:

"We regret the error but it's also a reminder of why we do these tests and run them throughout the year. Tests give us the opportunity to evaluate what's working, and in this case what's not. City management and the Seaside Police Department, where the message system resides, are working together to continually improve the system and we learned today that we have several improvements to make that we will begin working on immediately.

The Seaside Police Department issued this statement:

"We apologize for the inconvenience and concern this may have caused. Rest assured that this message was indeed JUST A TEST. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding."

Here's more information from the city of Seaside regarding local and distant tsunamis and how you should be prepared.


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