California gets its first real alert through Earthquake Early Warning system

MyShake (Image credit: MyShake)

What you need to know

  • California residents have received their first-ever real earthquake alert.
  • The alert went out via the MyShake app, for an earthquake in Parkfield, CA.
  • More than 40 people received the alert about 1 second before it hit.

A select number of California residents have received the first-ever public alert through the app MyShake, a statewide Earthquake Early Warning System.

As reported by LA Times, the alert was sent out early morning on December 17. It was in response to an M4.4 earthquake in Parkfield, CA.

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The quake was not strong enough to cause any damage because of its low magnitude. The system is designed to alert residents to quakes of M4.5 or higher, Tuesday's tremor was predicted to be a 4.8, hence the alert.

According to the report, the shaking was felt mostly in and around the Cholame Valley area, the closest nearby city to which is Paso Robles. Project manager for the MyShake app Jennifer Strauss said that more than 40 people received the alert about 1 second before the earthquake struck.

Whilst that might not seem like much time, the report notes that just a few seconds of warning can make all the difference, such as allowing dentists to take a drill out of a patient's mouth, elevators to let passengers off and giving people time to take cover. The system reportedly took 8.7 seconds to issue the alert. The system does not tend to alert those very close to the epicenter, as there is usually not enough time to warn people.

As Engadget notes, if you're in the vicinity of a powerful enough quake, warnings can be received via the Wireless Emergency Alert system, as well as through MyShake, available for iOS and Android.

The MyShake app was created by UC Berkely, and it uses data from the U.S Geological Survey's ShakeAlert System. Whilst the system is really still in the infancy of its lifespan, it's a cool example of how technology and app development can be used to keep us all safer.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9