In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds.” That was far-fetched, of course. But what happened Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine … or believe.

Authorities sent an emergency alert to cellphones in Hawaii: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

The possibility that a missile or missiles would land hung in the air for 38 long minutes. We imagine some people wondered if they’d ever hear their loved ones’ voices again.

Thankfully, it was a false alarm.

In calmer times, such an alert might have been shrugged off. Someone pushed the wrong button. No biggie.

But a new nuclear threat looms. This time, from a North Korean dictator trading threats and insults with President Trump. What’s real? What’s political theater? What’s empty bluster for domestic audiences? We don’t know.

We do know that Hawaiians aren’t the only ones in range of a potential North Korea strike. Washington, D.C., is also likely in range, or soon will be. New York, too. And of course, Chicago.

In December, for the first time in over three decades, a warning siren sounded across Hawaii as officials tested a system that could alert residents that a missile launched by North Korea was headed their way. TV ads now warn Hawaiians to “get inside, stay inside” if an attack seems imminent.

Saturday’s false alarm may be quickly forgotten. But a terrible thought lingers: The next warning could be real.