Thursday's Predicted Earthquake Downgraded to Hoax

Despite what you've read on the Internet, an earthquake is not scheduled for Sept. 30.

By Olsen Ebright and Jonathan Lloyd
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 7:06 AM PDT
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Celebrity Twitpics

Joey F.

Back in July, NBCLA asked for users' earthquake photos. Joey F. in Calabasas sent us this one that feels just a bit too conveniently timed. For this latest quake hoax, Joey's panicked photo seems to fits perfectly. His original caption: "I live in Calabasas CA and a crazy thing happened.. just as I was about to snap a picture of myself on my computer, the earthquake struck. This picture caught my trying to catch the pictures i have on my ceiling that all fell."

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There will not be a major earthquake on Thursday despite the panicked warnings circulating on Twitter.

Or, if there is a major earthquake on Thursday, we can safely say it was just a coincidence.

The quake hoax got steam Monday night as users passed along this warning, LAist reported:

"MAJOR EARTHQUAKE WARNING; 6.0 to 7.0 earthquake likely in S California; Sep 30. Foreshocks Sep 27-28: Please Retweet."

The hoax was retweeted hundreds of times, including by some big-name users (LAist points to Dr. Drew Pinsky's account). By Tuesday afternoon, "@quakeprediction" was the biggest trending topic in Los Angeles and San Diego, according to Trendsmap.com.

Some of the highlights from Trendsmap:

  • "I swear to god if there's an earthquake I will have a heartattack!!!!!! @Quakeprediction #ahhhhh" (link)
  • "@tammi524 @Quakeprediction tweet me when it happens?" (link)
  • "@NicoleMarie_88 dude I am so freaking scared! Look at @quakeprediction you'll feel a lot better! At least your farther from LA!" (link)

The magnitude of the hoax was so great, the originators of the prediction were overloaded with web traffic: "Because of the volume of traffic quakeprediction.com is being temporarily redirected and tomorrow it should go back to the original server."

It's not the first time we've heard rumblings of an impending quake. In April, another Twitter trend developed after QuakePrediction warned a significant quake was "likely April 12-16."

On April 4 -- about a weeky before the mention -- a magnitude-7.2 quake shook northern Baja California.

Despite all the retweets, earthquakes cannot be predicted.

"Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future," according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS repsonded early Tuesday morning with a tweet of its own: "Seeing many tweets on quake prediction. Folks, let's set the record straight...no one can predict quakes...no one http://go.usa.gov/xA9."
 

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