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NOAA is Having a VERY Bad Week: Chinese Hacking Revealed and Errant Tornado Watches Issued

12 Nov 2014, 1:37 pm

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Photo credit: NOAA

We all have bad weeks, but NOAA is having an exceptionally rocky go of it, this week. The Washington Post is reporting the Chinese hacked NOAA’s weather satellites in late September. And the Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla. — the nation’s only entity that issues official severe weather watches — had a major technical glitch. Errant tornado watches began being issued late last night, prompting confusion in the meteorological community. More on both stories, below.

China’s Hack of NOAA’s Satellites

Hacks of U.S. government systems, originating from China, have been on the rise in recent years. And America’s premier science agency — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — was the latest victim of one such recent attack.

According to the Washington Post, the hack occurred in late September but the intrusion wasn’t found until October 20. The hack forced federal workers to lock down a network that is “vital to disaster planning, aviation, shipping and scores of other crucial uses…”

“In recent weeks, four NOAA websites were compromised by an Internet-sourced attack. NOAA staff detected the attacks and incident response began immediately.” NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen told USA Today.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are fuming at the revelation.

The Washington Post reports NOAA has confirmed the attack to Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia.

“NOAA told me it was a hack and it was China,” said Wolf, who also scolded the agency for not disclosing the attack, “and deliberately misleading the American public in its replies.”

“They had an obligation to tell the truth,” Wolf said. “They covered it up.”

NOAA has not publicly confirmed the hack.

WeatherNation has previously reported on database breaches within NOAA. Just last month, a hydrologist at the Wilmington, Ohio weather forecast office was arrested for allegedly illegally accessing a restricted National Inventory of Dams database. That database contained sensitive information on thousands of dams in the United States, including potential causalities if a dam failed.

Long-Expired Tornado Watches Reissued by the Storm Prediction Center

The SPC had some major issues early Wednesday morning, when tornado watches — that were more than 10 years old — began showing up across the country. SPC immediately issued an “administrative message” that told end-users technical support was looking into the matter and they hoped to have the matter resolved as soon as possible.

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Photo credit: NOAA/NWS

After a string of updates, the National Weather Service seem to have found where the bad information was originating. A D.C. Metro-based government contractor — Computer Science Corporation — appeared to the the impetus of all of the confusion.

The NWS said they severed their direct link to the company and it appeared to rectify the issues.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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