As Twitter suffered an unprecedented hack pushing a Bitcoin scam via the accounts of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people Wednesday, the company temporarily prohibited many verified accounts from tweeting as it struggled to diagnose and solve the problem. The extreme countermeasure caught up a vital source of reliable information, the National Weather Service (NWS), which uses a network of regional Twitter accounts to publish updates on severe weather so residents in areas experiencing severe weather can prepare.
One such account based in Lincoln, Illinois, couldn’t tweet updates about an approaching tornado. “It’s been challenging,” warning coordination meteorologist Chris Miller told The Daily Beast. “The problem is if somebody relies on just one method to get their info, there’s a single point of failure, they won’t get that warning. That has the potential to put them in danger.” The bureau had issued a tornado warning for McClain County and was working to get that information to the public, according to Miller. “We’re in the middle of it right now—middle of the storm, middle of this situation on Twitter,” he added. Miller said the NWS headquarters had been in touch with Twitter to restore access. “I haven’t been given any explanation. We’re just trying to scramble here,” he said. He added that a do-gooder storm chaser had been tweeting out NWS updates gathered from other sources—storm sirens, TV warnings, radio broadcasts. The account’s access was restored late Wednesday evening after several hours.