UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: No hacking! Here's Strong from the NWS in another email:
Earlier today, test weather warnings that were labeled as tests, but improperly coded as active warnings, were inadvertently distributed to subscribers of the weather wire and emergency management news wire. Though the messages were clearly labeled as a test, they should not have been distributed outside the agency.
We regret any confusion this has caused and assure our customers that we will do all we can to prevent this from happening in the future.
ORIGINAL: If you've received news of impending tornadoes around D.C. this afternoon, don't panic... anymore. The tornado warnings sent out by the local branch of the National Weather Service are all false.
Here's what spokesman Christopher Strong e-mailed to media outlets a few minutes ago:
As we currently know, at least 3 tornado warnings have been issued outside of the office for the mid Atlantic region. We are working furiously at the highest levels of our agency to find the source of these invalid alerts and stop them immediately. Please disregard any tornado warnings today in the mid Atlantic region. We will let you know the resolution of this as soon as possible.
And on the website of the NWS, there's this:
REPORTS OF SEVERAL SEVERE THUNDERSTORM AND TORNADO WARNINGS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN STERLING. THERE HAVE BEEN NO WARNINGS ISSUED BY THIS OFFICE...AND ABSOLUTELY NO SEVERE WEATHER IS OCCURRING OR EXPECTED. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IS TROUBLESHOOTING THE ISSUE AT THIS TIME. TO REPEAT...NO WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT...AND NO SEVERE WEATHER OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY IS OCCURRING OR EXPECTED.