When an earthquake larger than magnitude 3 strikes the Northwest, an automated system is supposed to page University of Washington seismologists and notify emergency managers.
But that's not what happened with Friday morning's magnitude-4.5 jolt.
Because computers were apparently overloaded with data from an expanded network of seismic instruments, the scientists were awakened instead by predawn calls from journalists.
"The system has worked flawlessly for 10 years," said Steve Malone, emeritus professor and former director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. "This time, nothing went off."