Updated 03:52 AM EST, Fri, Dec 19, 2014
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7.4 Earthquake Warning Hitting California Is April Fools' Day Hoax

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Many Californians were panicked today after hearing that the U.S. Geological Survey predicted a catastrophic 7.4 earthquake would hit the state. 

But they have no reason to fear, because the report is nothing more than an April Fools Day hoax, as LA Weekly reports. 

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The U.S. Geological Survey, which was dealing with a handful of real earthquakes that occurred Friday night in the La Habra area, was not amused. USGS officials stated last night that a letter warning of a 7.4 earthquake is a joke. 

The Survey officials stated that while they have a "shake alert" system that gives USGS officials limited warming when temblors occur, they cannot predict earthquakes a day in advance. 

Alarms at USGS and other locations sound when a quake has started and once it's headed to Los Angeles. But experts said they cannot know the magnitude of earthquakes until they begin shaking. 

The USGS wrote: "USGS is aware of a letter circulating on the Internet that uses our logo and warns of an impending sizable earthquake in Southern California. USGS had no part in this letter or any alleged alert. USGS does not predict earthquakes. USGS distributes reliable and timely scientific information on earthquakes and makes it all available to the public. The message of being prepared is always valuable." 

CBS Los Angeles obtained a copy of the hoax, which was being circulated via email.

The email reads: "Please be advised as of this morning, March 31, 2014, the state of California is issuing a statewide warning as we have just received information from the state's Seismic Warning Systems urging residents in the following areas to be prepared for a sizable earthquake, up to, but not limiting, a 7.4-magnitude tremor." 

The cities of La Habra and Long Beach were both warned of the impending quake in the letter, while in actuality, a real 7.4 earthquake would affect a large portion of Southern California. Experts said a real 7.2 earthquake that hit in the Baja California Norte, Mexico desert in April 2010 was felt by 20 million people, and was even felt by people living in Phoenix, Ariz. 

The letter also used a USGS letterhead, which made people believe it was real. 

While an earthquake occurring in California is always a possibility, Californians can rest assured that the warning of a disastrous 7.4 earthquake is nothing more than an alarming joke. 

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