Sci-tech

California Early Warning Earthquake System To Be Launched Thursday

California Early Warning Earthquake System To Be Launched Thursday”

People across California can receive quake warnings seconds before they feel shaking through a new cell phone alert system starting Thursday, the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta natural disaster.

Initially, MyShake will deliver alerts to people for quakes exceeding magnitude 4.5 that will produce a shaking intensity in their area greater than level III on the modified Mercalli scale: a threshold at which most people will feel the shaking if they are indoors, similar to feeling vibrations from a truck driving by on the street.

The California Earthquake Early Warning System utilizes a smartphone app as well as traditional alert and warning delivery methods, such as Wireless Emergency Alerts.

The new system integrates the existing ShakeAlert natural disaster early warning system, which sends alerts before 'quakes hit. It works like this: In the moments before an earthquake's weaker initial waves ripple out from its epicenter, sensors throughout the region will detect those waves and send alerts out to cellphones, Amber Alert-style, giving people a few seconds of warning to take cover before the stronger S- or surface waves hit.

Californians can receive the notifications through the cell phone application MyShake, which has been available for download for months, although before Thursday was not equipped to transmit early warning alerts.

Large-scale public notification has been available for Los Angeles County since the start of the year through an app developed for the city of Los Angeles, but it hasn't been triggered yet. Residents refer to the looming quake as the "Big One".

California will launch the nation's first statewide natural disaster early warning system Thursday morning, according to a news release from the governor's office.

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The warnings can also come through the MyShake app, now downloadable for iOS and Android. But, he says, based on tests, "the system seems to be performing reasonably well".

Scientists initially thought it wise to alert users only of incoming shaking from an natural disaster that would cause damage, but many L.A. County residents were upset when they did not receive warnings about July's Ridgecrest quakes, which delivered scary shaking but no damage to Los Angeles.

At this level of shaking, the natural disaster is typically felt quite noticeably by people indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings, and may feel to some like the vibration of a passing truck.

WEA creates polygons that include cellphone towers, said Ryan Arba, chief of the seismic hazards branch of the Office of Emergency Services. Allen's team also wrote ShakeAlert's core algorithm that analyzes data from the state-wide network of natural disaster sensors and makes the initial calculations of magnitude and estimates of shaking intensity. "I encourage every Californian to download this app and ensure your family is natural disaster ready", he said in a statement.

"I think we can feel pretty good about the fact that we have one of the most significant early warning systems in the world", he said. Lawmakers set aside more than $7 million in this year's budget to promote the app, and they hope to have 4 million people download the app by the end of 2020.

UC Berkeley has been working on a couple of apps related to quake early warnings for years; the first version of MyShake, launched in 2016, was designed as a research experiment to allow users to send shaking data from their smartphones' motion sensors to researchers.

Cal OES, UC Berkeley, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and California state Sen.



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