Santa Rosa residents say MyShake app worked 'perfectly' during quakes

"It worked perfectly" - that's how some Bay Area residents describe the early warning system that notified the 4.4 magnitude Santa Rosa earthquake was coming.

For many, Tuesday's quake was the first time they'd used the MyShake app.

"All of a sudden, my phone just went crazy," said Patrick Burke, who got an alert through the app moments before the ground started shaking. "It worked exactly how it was supposed to. It probably gave me at least 10 seconds to hold on."

Alyna Robles, a stylist-in-training at Santa Rosa'a Dolce Vita Salon, was filming herself blow-drying a client's hair as part of an assignment for beauty school. Her video captured the moment the quake struck, and she and her client rushed for cover. 

On Wednesday, she described the noise the earthquake made as unforgettable.

 "I thought it was cars driving by, it was unbelievable the noise that it made," she said.

The 4.4 earthquake struck 2.2 miles northeast of Santa Rosa at 6:39 p.m. Tuesday. A 4.3 magnitude aftershock struck just 40 seconds later.

There were no reports of major damage or injuries, but it was strong enough to knock things off shelves in peoples' homes and open up cracks in some ceilings.

Angela Lux is the project scientist for the Early Alert Warning System at the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab. That system is based on a network of underground sensors across the West Coast.

"They're able to detect tiny little ground motions, much more sensitive than what we can feel, and they can feel those initial waves coming from the earthquake and we can create this alert," she said.

She said she was thrilled the alert system worked for some residents.

"We can definitely give people enough warning so they can drop cover and hold on - that's the goal," she said. "The more awareness we can get about this project, the better."