California to launch nation's first statewide natural disaster warning system

18 Octobre, 2019, 04:21 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Interstate 80 is closed as a fire at an oil storage facility burns in the background Tuesday Oct. 15 2019 in Rodeo Calif. A fire burning at NuStar

Scientists can not yet predict when the next deadly natural disaster will strike, but emergency response authorities in California plan to unveil the first statewide quake warning system Thursday, which marks the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta natural disaster.

Japan developed the world's most advanced quake early warning system after the 1995 Kobe natural disaster, based on the same principles of physics as California's. 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.

California rolled out the nation's first statewide quake warning system on Thursday, created to detect seismic waves and alert residents through a mobile phone app even before the ground starts shaking. Eventually, the USGS wants to install more sensors in remote and rural areas of the state, as well as expanding the system to OR and Washington.

The governor did not explain how California's natural disaster system is the world's most sophisticated. Rather, it detects the start of an natural disaster and calculates location, intensity and sends alerts to areas where shaking is likely to occur from quakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater.

The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake struck during a national broadcast of the 1989 World Series and experts have said the lighter-than-normal traffic because of the baseball game may have prevented a greater loss of life.

This will mark the first time residents across California can receive natural disaster alerts through their phones.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged residents to use the system and be better prepared for the next quake.

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The MyShake app also collects shaking data from phones during quakes and transmits it back to scientists at Berkeley. The app also serves to collect data after an natural disaster on how far and wide the shaking was felt.

Newsom said that the California Earthquake Early Warning System, which uses hundreds of seismic sensors to detect fast-moving seismic P-waves from major earthquakes, could give residents up to 20 seconds before the shaking starts.

California's earthquakes are caused by two plates sliding past one another. Residents refer to the looming quake as the "Big One".

"The California Earthquake Early Warning System will marry a new smartphone application with traditional alert and warning delivery methods such as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)", the release said.

MyShake, which has been funded since June by $1.5 million over two years from CalOES after five years of start-up funding from the Moore Foundation. Newsom and the Legislature included $7.6 million in the budget for a public information campaign that will encourage Californians to sign up for the app and learn more about earthquake safety at earthquake.ca.gov.

Making the alerts available in other languages is also a top priority, Allen said.

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