Tick tock of terror: Timeline of Hawaii missile alert snafu

January 18, 2018

FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 file photo provided by Civil Beat, cars drive past a highway sign that says "MISSILE ALERT ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT" on the H-1 Freeway in Honolulu. Gov. David Ige has appointed state Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara as new head of Hawaii's emergency management agency after a faulty alert was sent to cellphones around the state warning of an incoming missile attack. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat via AP, file)

HONOLULU (AP) — The missile alert mistakenly sent Saturday by Hawaii officials came just a few minutes after a shift change at state Emergency Operations Center in Diamond Head Crater. Here’s a timeline of what happened:

8:05 a.m. — Workers initiate routine test of the emergency alert system.

8:07 a.m. — A worker mistakenly hits the button to send the emergency warning reading: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

8:10 a.m. — The head of the Emergency Management Agency, state adjutant general Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, confirms with U.S. Pacific Command that there was no missile launch. Honolulu police are notified of the false alarm.

8:13 a.m. — The state issues a cancellation that prevents the message from being sent to phones that hadn’t previously received it, such as those out of cellphone coverage range or had been turned off.

8:19 a.m. — If there had been a real missile, this is about when it would have hit the islands. It is estimated that a missile would take about 20 minutes to reach Hawaii from North Korea. Officials say it would take about five minutes for the military to analyze the launch trajectory and notify the state, leaving only 12 to 15 minutes of warning time before impact.

8:20 a.m. — The Emergency Management Agency issues public notification of cancellation on Facebook and Twitter.

8:24 a.m. — Gov. David Ige retweets the cancellation notice.

8:30 a.m. — Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say they received a call from Hawaii seeking guidance on sending correction of alert. State officials say the call was about a minute long. Ige posts cancellation notice on his Facebook page.

8:45 a.m. — Cancellation of warning sent to cellphones: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” The state said it issued the cancellation after getting authorization from FEMA. However, FEMA said its approval was not required.


Source: Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.

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