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Does the US National Weather Service Ever Make Mistakes?

The U.S. National Weather Service, originally known as the U.S. Weather Bureau, was established in 1890 as part of the Department of Agriculture. Since then, the agency has performed duties such as issuing weather forecasts, monitoring weather patterns, recording statistics, and issuing warnings to the public for floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. For decades, Americans have relied upon the National Weather Service for reliable forecasts and warnings. But mistakes can happen. On 17 December 2003, the U.S. National Weather Service issued an advisory that read: "The Earth has left its orbit and is hurtling towards the Sun."

The rest of the message read: "Unusually hot weather will occur for at least the next several days as the Earth draws ever nearer to the Sun. Therefore, an excessive heat watch has been posted." The advisory was a test message that was never supposed to reach the public. It was posted by accident during a training session. Although it was quickly removed, a correction had to be issued to relieve Americans who, for a brief period, may have believed that the end was near.

More weather milestones:

  • Even though we are not, in fact, hurtling towards the Sun, scientists believe that 2015 could be the hottest year on record in terms of global average surface temperature.

  • Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, was the the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

  • In January 2007, overnight temperatures in California fell to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.6 degrees Celsius), damaging $14 billion (USD) worth of crops.

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More Info: MIT Technology Review

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