On Thursday evening, a scheduled test of a new citywide emergency alert system took place, 30 to 60 minutes behind schedule, but nonetheless seemingly successfully. Still, it freaked a lot of people out.
The test, which was scheduled for between 5:15 and 5:45 p.m. on the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, was cause for some alarm to those who didn't know it was coming — that is when it actually went out closer to 6:15 p.m. Thursday evening. As ABC 7 reports, San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management is calling the test a success, despite the delay, which has not been explained.
While some residents praised the effort to provide the city with a new alert system for major emergencies like earthquakes, others found the test, and its timing on the Loma Prieta anniversary, unsettling at best. Also, many were confused about where the test was coming from.
San Francisco tested a new cell phone emergency alert system on the LomaPrieta 30th anniversary. The alert system sends messages to all mobile devices connected to cell phone towers in SF,instead of sending messages based on area code or asking people to register for text alerts. pic.twitter.com/7wNNdRAPUz— Jana Katsuyama (@JanaKTVU) October 18, 2019
the sf emergency earthquake test alert scared the shit out of me 😰 pic.twitter.com/8wuUiJOdid— (ง'̀-'́)ง | IM BLIND FOR YOUR LOVE (@moonlightpyo) October 18, 2019
I’m literally in the fucking tunnel the goes from sf to Oakland on Bart and I get this alert and the first word I read was emergency 😭😭😭😭 I was about to start freaking tf out pic.twitter.com/cWMtyMvaAb— sam (@sosaasam) October 18, 2019
Because of the news about the new earthquake early-warning system that had been widely broadcast earlier in the day on Thursday, many people thought this test was an early warning of a coming quake.
And chatter on the internet in the last week about how Mexico City had a big earthquake in 2017 on the anniversary of another one 32 years earlier had anxieties running high.
Just sending a hearty old FU to the test from the emergency alert system for SF. I thought it was early warning notification and promptly freaked the F out. #testing #sanfrancisco #earthquake pic.twitter.com/jbzsbJac88— Laura (@lauratellsjokes) October 18, 2019
The Department of Emergency Management says that future tests, and actual alerts, won't be delayed. The department's public information officer, Francis Zamora, tells ABC 7, "While this test was delayed, it was successful in the sense that we got a chance to understand what's going to work, what's going to cause us some problems during an actual emergency." He says the department is still investigating what happened to cause the delay, and should know within a few days.