Environment

Race to get quake warnings to Californians before the ‘big one’

With a catastrophic earthquake in California long feared, an early warning system is being tested on the west coast of the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Jim Drury reports.

LOS ANGELES, PASADENA AND MARINA DEL REY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/INTERNET (REUTERS//U.S GEOLOGICAL SURVEY/SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE CENTER HANDOUT/SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE) – ShakeAlert is designed to warn California’s 40 million residents if a quake is coming.

Experts have long feared a catastrophic quake in the state.

The US Geological Survey is developing the system to give people vital seconds to grab supplies and move to safety.

ROBERT DEGROOT, CO-ORDINATOR FOR THE SHAKEALERT EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING PROGRAM AT USGS EARTHQUAKE SCIENCE CENTER,

“The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system is not earthquake prediction. It’s actually detecting the earthquake as soon as it reaches the surface through a system, a network of seismometers. In the end we hope to have 1,675 of them across the three states of California, Oregon and Washington.”

Private companies are helping developers provide instant mass public notification.

Early Warning Labs have developed this app.

JOSH BASHIOUM, FOUNDER OF EARLY WARNING LABS,

“We use the sensor data, right, to actually create this packet of earthquake data, real time data, then we actually take the data, we actually create that earthquake early warning for each of our end users.”

The firm has also set up a warning system in apartment blocks.

JOSH BASHIOUM, FOUNDER OF EARLY WARNING LABS,

“The system is connected to the fire panel that’s behind me here, to the voice evacuation system connecting to that. So in every single unit and in the entire parking garage, all the common areas, even in here, we will hear an earthquake early warning and it will tell people an earthquake’s coming and to drop, cover and hold on.”

During a 5.3 magnitude quake in California in April, testers with the app reported serveal seconds notice before the shaking began.

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