A U.S. Tsunami Warning System monthly test was apparently mistaken for a real alert by at least one prominent weather website and several local television stations Tuesday morning.
AccuWeather.com sent out a social media alert a little before 9 a.m. that said: "Tsunami Warning in effect for Norfolk, VA until 9:28 a.m. EST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service."
The alert was broadcast along the East Coast.
AccuWeather sent out a text two minutes later saying that the warning was just a test.
The alerts caused brief panic for some area residents.
"I about had a stroke," wrote Mary O'Brien Knight, who lives in Virginia Beach.
George Alcaraz was working at Norfolk International Airport when the alert went off on his phone.
"I was like, 'What the hell?' I was looking everywhere to see if it was true and people were calling me," said Alcaraz, who lives on Rudee Inlet and said his house floods when waters rise to more than 7 feet. "I was worried about our little dog. I didn't know what to do."