HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – A time zone error was to blame for an emergency siren and tsunami alert system which erroneously went off last week in Huntington Beach, awaking residents from their sleep in the predawn hours.

An emergency siren at a fire station in Huntington Beach. Feb. 7, 2020. (CBS2)

At about 4 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, the city’s Emergency Siren system suddenly activated, with sirens blasting from Huntington Beach’s eight fire stations.

At the time, fire and police officials jumped onto social media to reassure residents that there was no emergency and that the sirens had gone off in error.

On Thursday, the Huntington Beach Police Department confirmed that the sirens activated because the system had been erroneously set to Greenwich Mean Time, as opposed to Pacific Standard Time.

The alarm was meant to go off as a test at 12 p.m. on Feb. 7: A test alarm takes place at noon on the first Friday of every month.

The error, however, was due to a software upgrade.

“The time zone was incorrect due to a software upgrade, which was inadvertently ‘live’ prior to staff receiving training,” police wrote in a news release. “City personnel have now been trained to use the new software, and we are ready to test the equipment.”

The system, which was taken offline following the error, is being placed back online Thursday morning. Sometime Thursday morning, the city will conduct what it calls a “growl” test which will last just a few seconds.

“Most of our residents will not hear this test, and it will be done to ensure the sirens are working and our system upgrade is operational,” the city said.

Residents are urged to sign up for ALERT OC, which is Orange County’s mass wireless emergency notification system. ALERT OC is where real emergency alerts are sent out.


Leave a Reply