(BCN) — A statewide drill involving an early warning earthquake alert system popped off on people’s cellphones seven hours earlier than planned and led to some early morning confusion early Thursday. The ShakeAlert system is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and is designed to detect earthquakes and estimate their locations, magnitudes and shaking intensities.
As part of the planned Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill, the ShakeAlert system was supposed to push notifications to people’s cellphones at 10:19 a.m. but instead issued an alert at 3:19 a.m. The early-morning snafu was the apparent result of some kind of time-zone mix-up, USGS officials announced on social media.
“You might have gotten a test alert from the @MyShakeApp early today,” USGS officials said. “We acknowledge that no one wants to get a test message this early and we are working with our #ShakeAlert technical partner to determine what happened.”
It was the second day in a row that the alert system caused some confusion.
On Wednesday, it pushed notifications out on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Wireless Emergency Alert system about a large 5.7-magnitude quake near Isleton in Sacramento County and then quickly revised that to a much smaller 4.2-magnitude shaker.
“During this event those receiving alerts on their phones may have felt little or no shaking,” USGS officials said in a statement posted on the agency’s website. “Successful earthquake early warning is a balance between speed and accuracy with a goal to maximize public safety.”
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