VIDEO: When will California’s earthquake early warning system be up and running?


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Mexico is one of several countries that has an early warning system for earthquakes, and scientists are in agreement–the Bay Area is overdue for a big quake.

KRON4 decided to find out just how much longer it might take for California to get its Shake Alert system up and running.

A prototype of California’s earthquake early warning system, the Shake Alert has been in development for more than a decade.

And during the 2014 Napa Quake, a beta version got warnings out to a handful of users.

The goal is simple–keeping people safe.

“Even just a couple seconds warning is enough to alert people to find a safe place to drop cover and hold on,” USGS scientist Dave Croker said.

In Mexico City, about 650 miles from the epicenter, their warning was more than a minute.

Scientists say that’s the kind of warning San Francisco might have had during the Santa Cruz-centered Loma Prieta earthquake.

“So, Santa Cruz would not have had any warning, but you saw how much damage there was in San Francisco and Oakland, and those cities probably would have had 20 to 30 seconds during the Loma Prieta earthquake,” Croker said.

When a quake hits sensors in the ground, it sends information to a USGS data center, which determines the location, magnitude, and if significant, sends out the alert.

Green dots represent some 550 quake sensors that are already on the ground across California.

The pink and blue dots represent another 180 that have been funded and should go in in the next year.

“We will roll out Shake Alert when we feel we have the coverage of stations necessary to an accurate result and warning, and we hope that will be in the next year or so,” Croker said.



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