UPDATE: 911 back up after statewide outage

9:49 PM: King County has just sent this alert to media around the county:

King County asks that you let your readers, viewers, and listeners know that the 9-1-1 system in Washington State is down at this time. No calls are getting through to the 9-1-1 centers, either on landlines or cell phones.

People who are having an emergency in King County can call the ten-digit emergency number for the police or fire agency in their area on a landline or cell phone, or they can use Text-to-911 on their cell phone.

There is no estimate for restoration of 9-1-1 service. No additional details are available at this time.

Though the alert doesn’t mention it, there’s been a major CenturyLink outage that some agencies cited for 911 troubles earlier. CenturyLink says it hopes to have that fixed by early morning.

Meantime, you can reach emergency services at 206-583-2111 if you need to, per SPD.

12:16 AM: Update from the county:

The widespread 9-1-1 outage caused by a malfunction at CenturyLink continues to affect King County. 9-1-1 call centers are having difficulty receiving phone calls, both from landlines and cell phones. At this time, there is no estimate on when full 9-1-1 service will be restored in our region.

2:30 AM: No 911-specific updates since then but for its part, CenturyLink tweeted a little over an hour ago that it’s “seeing positive progress with our service restoration efforts.”

4:50 AM: Another CenturyLink update: “We discovered some additional technical problems as our service restoration efforts were underway. We continue to make good progress …”

9:31 AM: Not fixed yet, says King County and CenturyLink, which reports only “good progress.”

10:53 AM: From King County: “Progress is being made to restore 9-1-1 service in King County. The CenturyLink network outage that affected emergency calls nationwide is being addressed, and 9-1-1 calls are again getting through. However, residents are urged not to “test” the system. There may still be intermittent issues …”

4:18 PM: CenturyLink also has since said 911 is working. But keep that 206-583-2111 number handy.

58 Replies to "UPDATE: 911 back up after statewide outage"

  • rpo December 27, 2018 (10:16 pm)

    My internet with CenturyLink has been up and down all day. Currently down again. I’m thinking CenturyLink will be facing SO MANY lawsuits regarding this considering 911 service has been down for ~20 hours in parts of 10 states now. 

  • Edd December 27, 2018 (11:08 pm)

    I got an automated phone call saying there was some reason to call this number. Has anyone else received a call like this?

    • WSB December 27, 2018 (11:17 pm)

      If you signed up for AlertSeattle – they have sent alerts text and voice. We got them all on both our lines. But the basic message is just this one.

      • they December 27, 2018 (11:32 pm)

        I also received an automated call from AlertSeattle and have never signed up for it, didn’t even know it was a thing till now. I was sound asleep when the call came in thought it was life alert that was set up for a family member. Yiks… heart was a pumping…  

      • Sky King December 27, 2018 (11:39 pm)

        Oddly, the automated voice call I received indicated SFD and SPD have been alerted that I have an emergency and that I should call the non-emergency number. Poor choice of wording, as I do not have an emergency. I hope this doesn’t alarm anyone and cause them to call unnecessarily.

        • WSB December 28, 2018 (12:02 am)

          The message, also delivered in text formats (one of several we’ve received), is: “SPD AND SFD-Safety Alert-If you have an emergency and cannot connect to Seattle 911, please call 206 583-2111, 206 625-5011 or text 911. Seattle technicians are working on the matter.” I would agree that without context such as “911 service is experiencing an outage,” that would be confusing.

          • Sky King December 28, 2018 (12:29 am)

            Thank you, WSB, for clarifying. Between the oddly paced electronic voice and my bad hearing, I obviously misheard the message!

          • Sleepless December 28, 2018 (8:07 am)

            Thank you for listing out the numbers.  Double checked the message we got after the annoying beeping. All they said was ‘in case of emergency, call local police or fire department. ” guess i should program the numbers you gave.

        • Terri December 28, 2018 (9:54 am)

          We also thought that was the message, Sky King, and so decided it was spam. The wording could certainly be improved upon. And does anyone really ever say “Call nine hundred eleven”?

    • Zh17 December 28, 2018 (8:41 am)

      Yes I got one of those calls too.

  • psps December 27, 2018 (11:32 pm)

    It was literally impossible for anything like this to happen in the old Bell System days.

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (12:05 am)

      I miss the olden-times phone system too but .. CenturyLink is the direct descendant of a Baby Bell.

  • Meal December 27, 2018 (11:37 pm)

    Getting hit every minute with 911 is down on my new cell phone with loud beeps. …is this ok

  • Howard December 27, 2018 (11:38 pm)

    My CenturyLink hasn’t been effected all day, in Sunrise Heights. Just got the “Emergency Alert” to my phone 3 mins ago. 

  • Lucia December 27, 2018 (11:40 pm)

    We just received the automated call with message.  Bit difficult to understand the automated voice. Thought it was just another scam call. Helpful to read information on this site and have call validated. Thanks 

  • Alan December 27, 2018 (11:40 pm)

    911 should never go down and thanks for telling all the criminals we cant call for help. If I have to shoot an intruder I am blaming it on you. 

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (12:00 am)

      Yes, you CAN call for help, as noted above. You just have to call a different number. That’s the point of all these messages (going out over every imaginable communication channel, even overrode the streaming music channel we have going over a wireless speaker, plus of course phones)… TR

    • Pdxmark December 28, 2018 (12:51 am)

      While it’s true you 911 should never go down.  You can call their regular 10 digit number.  That’s why they have the alert letting you know to do that in case of an emergency.  I for one welcome this alert as I often have to call 911.It’s always a good idea to have the alternative 10 digit number in your phones.

    • newnative December 28, 2018 (8:59 am)

      Alan, it was on Facebook from all sorts of gov’t leaders and sources. My phone was telling me. no one said you couldn’t call for help. Way to blow something out of proportion. 

  • Sleepless December 28, 2018 (12:44 am)

    The loud beeps were so annoying, and still can’t get back to sleep…….

  • Bradley December 28, 2018 (12:53 am)

    Is this the beginning of “The Purge”, where there’s no laws or law enforcement for 24 hours?

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (1:16 am)

      Well, considering it’s been a few hours now and the emergency personnel are still on the job, apparently not. The NY outage/blue-light-in-sky coincidence is a little unsettling, though that’s illogical since the CLink outage happened long before.

    • newnative December 28, 2018 (8:59 am)

      The Purge was the first thing that came to my mind too. 

  • they December 28, 2018 (7:35 am)

    The landline notification was poorly developed and created more confusion than clarity. A simple message stating 911 services currently experiencing some difficulty connecting calls would have been just fine. Sometimes a string and a couple of cans is all you need…   

  • on vacation December 28, 2018 (7:42 am)

    I’m currently out-of-state visiting family, and as always, make the WS Blog my first news of the day.Scary to see a house fire so close to my home, then my heart stopped to learn about the 9-1-1- outage.I did not receive the automated message from ‘Alert Seattle’, how do I sign-up for it?   To me, putting up with a few “loud beeps” interruptions would be well worth learning there is something of major importance happening around me/us.Will someone please clue me in how I get on their list?Missing home, but good to see my family.  See you all on New Years Day!!!! 

  • Marie December 28, 2018 (8:20 am)

    Just had the worst night – although I had my cell phone on sleep mode, I was jolted awake by alarm sounds similar to a smoke alarm going off, and then read the message re the 911 outage.  Horrible.  As it happens, my granddaughter was spending the night and then proceeded to toss and kick over on my side of the bed the rest of the night.Isn’t it possible for a text to go out, without the horrific alarm sounds?  If a person had a need to call 911 they would see the message as soon as they turned on their phone.  Is the horrible alarm really necessaryin the middle of the night? 

    • KBear December 28, 2018 (9:43 am)

      What if you had an emergency and weren’t already aware of the 911 outage? What if someone else had an emergency and they were only able to get help because they received the alert? I think the community’s safety is worth the minor inconvenience you experienced, Marie.

    • Bee December 28, 2018 (5:30 pm)

      There are settings you can set on your mobile phones so the alert doesn’t go off.   These examples are for iPhone.  I am sure Android phones have something similar.Under notifications:Also the do not disturb feature, which when active you won’t get the alert sounds but you will still see the alert

  • Michael Waldo December 28, 2018 (9:07 am)

    I too got the alert – three times it woke me up – twice on my land line and once on my cell phone – I listened to it twice and it certainly said  “indicated SFD and SPD have been alerted that I
    have an emergency and that I should call the non-emergency number.”  I thought I was a victim of 911 spoofing. I had to call the non-emergency number to find out about “Seattle Alert”.  I had never heard of it nor did I opt in. I am a news junkie – I listen to Kiro news, NPR and subscribe to the newspaper.  A very poor job of getting the word out, never heard of it until last night.

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (9:25 am)

      It’s been more than three years now.

      • datamuse December 28, 2018 (11:00 am)

        I think there were two separate alerts. I got the AlertSeattle notifications at 10 pm to text and e-mail, then a phone call at 11 pm. The cell phone alert message came in sometime after that and I got the impression it was via my mobile carrier..AlertSeattle is great, incidentally. I find out about major traffic issues well before I hear about them from anywhere else.

        • WSB December 28, 2018 (11:48 am)

          Yes, there were multiple alerts. Among the ones that came in on my phone, 10:01 and 10:04 pm I believe were the ones sent by AlertSeattle, headed “SPD and SFD Safety Alert.” Also a recorded voice call at 10:55 pm. Then the tone of doom at 11:30 pm “Emergency Alert: To reach 911 in Kitsap County, text 911 or call (local #) for emergencies only.” Then at 11:34, “Widespread 911 outage in WA. In case of emergency, call local police or fire department.”

  • rpo December 28, 2018 (10:37 am)

    Also ignore CenturyLink’s ridiculous tweet stating that you should use your cell phone to call 911 instead since clearly cell phones are also having issues with calls making it to the 911 call centers.  They really did not think that one through.

  • Christina December 28, 2018 (10:44 am)

    It’s probably nothing, but the fact that they launch text 911 only hours before a voice calling service outage is really gnawing at me.  

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (10:51 am)

      If it’s any consolation, text 911 was actually semi-quietly launched more than a week earlier. I had been looking for an opportunity to mention it for anyone who hadn’t heard, and Jennifer’s note provided that.

  • Waikikigirl December 28, 2018 (11:35 am)

    WEIRD… we didn’t get one alert???  We’re with AT&T

    • KBear December 28, 2018 (11:50 am)

      Are you signed up with AlertSeattle? We’re on AT&T and we got the alerts. I don’t think your carrier matters, it goes out to all the phone numbers in their system.

    • miws December 28, 2018 (11:52 am)

      That is weird, WaikikiGirl. I got a robocall last night at 10:57, and I’m on ATT Pre Pay/GoPhone on a non-smartphone.  As someone posted above, it woke me up too. I’ve been signed up for Alert Seattle probably from the start, and, in fact, there was also an email from them from last night when I got onto my laptop this morning. —-Mike

    • KM December 28, 2018 (2:05 pm)

      Are the Emergency Notifications “off” on your mobile phone? You can opt out of these alerts and Amber Alerts on at least some devices. It’s separate than AlertSeattle. I received the push notification Emergency Alert because I have mine turned on, but about 2.5 hours after the local broadcasters broke the news. I am not signed up through AlertSeattle (no robocall).

    • Trickycoolj December 28, 2018 (3:18 pm)

      All three AT&T phones in our house blared loudly with the Amber Alert tones. We have 2 206 numbers and 1 360 number. Make sure you have your individual line locations/addresses updated with ATT if you’re on any kind of a shared plan and previously lived somewhere else or the account holder lives somewhere else. We found when the account holder moved to Oregon they continued to charge Washington/Thurston County taxes on that line even though the account holder was living in Oregon and updated the billing address. Once we got that squared away when I call 9-1-1 it routes to King Co appropriately and my Caller ID shows up with my name and not the account holders name. We’ve been with them over 10 years so the data had never been updated!

  • zephyr December 28, 2018 (12:40 pm)

    I didn’t sign up for the AlertSeattle and  I got  the call just as I was reading about the outage last night.  I don’t want the robo call.  I don’t know why I got the call and I don’t want them.  I have used Call Rejection on that number, but I don’t know if that will work.  Does anyone know how to opt out?  Thanks. 

    • WSB December 28, 2018 (12:45 pm)

      I believe at least one of the alerts wasn’t from AlertSeattle but was instead a higher-level type of alert like Amber Alert-type “access to all cell phones” emergency alerts – was certainly the same tone (oldschool EBS style, for those of us of a certain age).

      • newnative December 28, 2018 (1:19 pm)

        That is what I must have had. It woke me up twice. I never signed up for “AlertSeattle”. The problem with this type of alert is that once I picked up my phone, the message erased before I could read it and was not searchable. The second time it went off, I had my glasses on before picking up my phone. Pretty frightening when you’re asleep and you associate it with an ongoing emergency. 

    • Railroaded December 28, 2018 (12:50 pm)

      I don’t believe that you can opt out anymore than you can opt out of the emergency broadcast  tests on your TV.  When I don’t want to be bothered with phone calls, I just turn the phone off.  You might want to try that.

    • KBear December 28, 2018 (12:52 pm)

      Good grief! It’s a civil alert, not a “robocall”. You don’t have any right to “opt out.”

  • dsa December 28, 2018 (12:51 pm)

    We are on CenturyLink and *not* signed up with Alert Seattle, but we got the phone call alert anyway.

  • rpo December 28, 2018 (1:07 pm)

    My internet with CenturyLink is down again as of 30 minutes ago.  

  • dot December 28, 2018 (1:51 pm)

    we’ve been having problems with our centurylink internet for the last few days, is that related, what is wrong?we called and they just said there were no outages and to restart our modem or something, is that not right?

  • valvashon December 28, 2018 (2:24 pm)
    December 28, 2018 (8:20 am)


    Just had the worst night – although I had my cell phone on sleep
    mode, I was jolted awake by alarm sounds similar to a smoke alarm going
    off, and then read the message re the 911 outage.  Horrible.  As it
    happens, my granddaughter was spending the night and then proceeded to
    toss and kick over on my side of the bed the rest of the night.Isn’t it
    possible for a text to go out, without the horrific alarm sounds?  If a
    person had a need to call 911 they would see the message as soon as they
    turned on their phone.  Is the horrible alarm really necessary in the
    middle of the night? 

    • KBear
      December 28, 2018 (9:43 am)


      What if you had an emergency and weren’t already aware of the 911
      outage? What if someone else had an emergency and they were only able
      to get help because they received the alert? I think the community’s
      safety is worth the minor inconvenience you experienced, Marie.

    Marie- I was thinking exactly the same thing.  Letting everybody know that 911 was not working is important information, but it doesn’t need to be conveyed by a klaxon horn going off at 11:30 at night, right when I was in the middle of my night’s sleep.  I work in broadcast TV as a satellite truck operator and equipment and building maintenance technician.  I can’t turn my company supplied phone off at night as there is more than one scenario where I actually might get called in. KBEAR- please re-read Marie’s comment.  She doesn’t mind getting alerted (as I would not) but I think we both are of the mind that nobody really needs to get jolted awake by this message.  As another poster said, the message disappeared after it came in.  In my case, I was jolted awake and instantly started to frantically push buttons on the phone to stop the horrible noise that I was sure would wake the rest of the family.  When I actually did wake up later in the morning there was nothing on the phone screen about 911 being out.  A regular text message would have been there waiting for me at that point, even if it did gently wake me when it came in.  In this case, the loud horn noise jolting me (and probably others) awake was actually less effective than a quieter alert noise.In short, save the klaxon noises for incoming missiles, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.  Those are imminent threats.

  • rpo December 28, 2018 (2:26 pm)

    That’s incorrect.  They have been having issues since ~2 AM Thursday and still are trying to get it fixed.  It’s all over the news and is affecting their services nationwide.  Mine is working about 60% of the time during the two past days.

  • waikikigirl December 28, 2018 (3:50 pm)

    Now that I think about it I do believe my husband opt’d us out of Ambers and… can’t really be sure though because as WSB stated:   ( for those of us of a certain age)

  • Julia December 28, 2018 (4:09 pm)

    I just keep thinking that having my landline ring right before midnight could have CAUSED a heart attack. If I hadn’t already had the horrible cell phone alarms and knew what it was about, I’d have been really frightened. Not sure what to suggest, but I wish there was another way to handle it. BTW, the first cell message told me that Kitsap Co. was having 911 problems and I puzzled over why they were telling me, here in WS.

  • 22blades December 28, 2018 (4:14 pm)

    Like a poster above, I have a profession that I practice at all hours. I disagree, however that a 911 outage alert is merely a nuisance. We have evolved to a response time of minutes in this county. There is the concept of the “Golden Hour” where response time correlates with our survival. The residential fire in North Admiral is a great example; the house was lost last night with a Fire House a mere few blocks away. Something to note; In this day in age, many people retain their old phone numbers from their previous residence from another part of the country so they will not receive an alert. My elderly father with a Florida cellphone number had no idea that 911 was offline until today.I have  no problem with being woken up for the alert. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_hour_(medicine)

  • valvashon December 28, 2018 (5:48 pm)

    I do have a problem being woken up for such an alert.  A 911 outage does not affect people in the same way that missiles, tsunamis or volcanoes do.  While it’s important to know that 911 is down, I don’t need to be blasted out of bed by an incredibly loud alarm horn, frantically trying to silence it.  As I said, a regular old text message that 911 was down would have worked just fine.  There needs to be more than one level of “Government Alert”.  Alerts such as this will cause people to turn them off, with the associated problems of missing alerts that you need to act on immediately. And yes, I get the “Golden Hour” concept.  How often do you call 911?  I think I’ve called 911 twice in the past 20 years.  I don’t need to be scared awake in the middle of my sleep cycle to be told that if I happen to need to call 911 in the next day or two, I should use the appropriate 10 digit number instead.

  • Marietta December 29, 2018 (10:19 am)

    No- this loud horn alert is absolutely unneccessary and counterproductive. Who did it help?  How many people were suddenly faced with the situation of needing to call 911, and then got this information and phone number and used it? Who would even be able to note the numbers? I would guess no one. How any people alerted were confused and panicked by this alert? Apparently, just about everyone. This is not about awareness trumping convenience, but about a system that is not helpful and indeed causes undue harm. 

  • WSB December 30, 2018 (9:02 pm)

    For anyone interested – the Times reports on the statewide alert and notes that the capability is less than a month old, in our state:

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