Office of Emergency Management explains accidental earthquake al - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Office of Emergency Management explains accidental earthquake alerts

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Residents across the Central Coast received up to 24 emergency alerts on Sunday, either on their television screens or their cell phones.

"Saw a bunch of thunderstorm alerts on TV, interrupting the Weather Channel," says Bob Shanbrom, a San Luis Obispo resident.

Shanbrom says he wasn't sure if he should take it seriously.

"I was just thinking, 'Oh yeah, maybe it'll rain, but probably not.' They tend to over-warn, but then that kind of creates another problem where people don't take the warning seriously," Shanbrom said.

Thunder, lightning, rain, even hail did make their appearance.

Two of the alerts that came with all of that weather weren't supposed to, including an earthquake alert out of Santa Barbara County.

"They wanted to put out an evacuation warning message for the Alamo Fire area and they slipped up and accidentally put earthquake," said Ron Alsop, emergency services manager for San Luis Obispo County.

Some also saw a 'Special Marine Warning,' which is meant for only mariners.

"Those were done in mistake because of a coding on the emergency alert system equipment that's received at radio stations and TV stations. That's something we're going to follow up on," Alsop said.

Some of those alerts may have also been doubled up because radio and TV stations cover two counties.

Annoying or not, officials say it's vital to pay attention to the alerts because events like flash flooding can be deadly.

"In February of 1998, we had two California Highway Patrol officers and a Nipomo resident killed on Highway 166 because some flooding took out the roadway," Alsop said.

Emergency management officials say they have meetings scheduled Tuesday morning to work out the kinks in the system.

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