Test storm alert causes stir

A test National Hurricane Centre alert stating Tropical Depression 1 had formed in the northwest Caribbean Friday afternoon caused some media in hurricane-nervous New Orleans Friday afternoon to erroneously report the occurrence.

The false report also made the rounds through email in Grand Cayman.

The alert stated that the Government of Cuba had issued a Tropical Storm Watch for western Cuba. The centre of the storm was reported at 17.2 N 84.0 W, or approximately 230 miles southwest of Grand Cayman, and was heading due north at six knots.

The report was posted by the New Orleans area website NOLA.com, which is affiliated with the Times Picayune newspaper. Google posted the link to the story.

The NOLA.com posting noted that the official start of hurricane season was more than a month away. NOLA.com also posted what it called the official alert, which was dated 5pm EDT on Wednesday, 8 June 2006.

That alert was circulated by email to people in Grand Cayman.

In the early evening, NOLA.com issued a clarification under the heading ‘Test alert mistakenly issued’ with the following text:

‘An NHC alert that Tropical Depression 1 had formed in the Caribbean was mistakenly issued Friday afternoon and reported in some local media, including NOLA.com. This report was in error.’

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