California earthquake puts early warning system to test

California earthquake puts early warning system to test

Sacramento, California. – The sensors also picked up the first signs A strong earthquake struck the coast of Northern CaliforniaAn alert was sent to 3 million smartphone users telling them to “Drop, Cover, Hold”. It was hailed as the biggest test yet of the alarm system since it was released to the public.

But people who were rocked by the 6.4-magnitude quake early Tuesday said the alert didn’t give them enough time to take cover with the quake. It shook homes to their foundations, cutting off electricity and water for thousandsMore than ten people were injured.

Jimmy Eller, who was sitting in his parked Chevy Malibu while working as a security guard, said he was already in the throes of a violent earthquake when he noticed his phone lit up with the warning. He was more focused on what was going on outside as the street lamps started to flicker.

“They were all blinking and blinking and off,” Eller said. “I could see the breakers and wires in the distance flashing like lightning. It was terrifying. You could see everything moving and trembling.”

earthquake It was stationed near the small town of Ferndale, about 210 miles (345 kilometers) northwest of San Francisco. This was the biggest alert the early warning system, ShakeAlert, had made since it was publicly launched in California three years ago.

“It really is a world-leading tool that we hope will save lives,” said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

ShakeAlert was developed by university researchers and maintained by the USGS. It is one of the few earthquake warning systems that have been established in various parts of the world over the past few decades, including Japan and Mexico. But the new technology, which is in operation in California, Oregon and Washington, is not without challenges.

Before alerts can be sent to people’s phones, multiple seismometers must detect movement below the Earth’s surface. This information can then be processed to determine the location and magnitude of the earthquake. The process, from detecting a seismometer to sending an alert being sent, is all automated, said Robert DeGroot, scientist on the ShakeAlert operations team.

Some people received the alert with a 10-second notification. Because of the way the system works, de Groot said, those closest to the epicenter may not have received an alert until they felt the shaking.

Jane Olson, who lives in Arcata about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the epicenter, said she woke up from shaking and her phone went off at the same time. She wasn’t sure who woke her up first, but said the loud noise and bright light from her phone probably helped her realize the intensity of the quake.

Fearing for her dog, who was sleeping in a crate, she quickly got up and headed for the back door, either to stand for shelter or to go outside if the house started to fall apart.

“It might have taken longer for the vibration to wake me up if the phone didn’t also make so much noise,” she said.

Ferndale City Manager Jay Parrish said he was not aware of anyone receiving the alert. Unlike tsunamis or floods in which there is ample time to prepare for a potential disaster, he did not believe that an earthquake warning system could provide sufficient advance notice.

When told the alarm sounded for about 10 seconds before violent shaking, he said, “That may have saved one of my glass jars.”

De Groot said it’s hard to say why someone should have received the alert and not without more information. Some people may have turned off notifications from Wireless Emergency Alerts, the same system run by the federal government that sends Amber Alerts to phones.

A glitch in an earthquake warning app for San Diego residents that relied on system data falsely alerted people more than 650 miles (1,040 kilometers) from the epicenter.

De Groot said this is the first time the system has alerted people in two states – California and Oregon. A study is underway to explore alerting in parts of Alaska in the future.

Several apps use ShakeAlert data to notify people who may experience significant earthquake impacts. People within a radius of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the epicenter of the quake that struck Northern California on Tuesday have been alerted, said Richard Allen, director of the Seismology Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

In blog 2021 MailSeismology lab explained why we don’t know when an earthquake will happen before it starts.

“The physical processes along an earthquake fault before and during a rupture are so complex that seismologists have given up trying to achieve the elusive goal of predicting when a powerful earthquake will occur.”

The lab has developed an app called MyShake that has reported about 270,000 people about the earthquake.

“From a technical standpoint, I would say the system did a great job,” Allen said.

The next step, Allen said, is to help people understand the importance of falling to the ground so that they do so automatically, which could help prevent injuries.

About 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the epicenter, Anna Hogan, a student at California State University, Chico, was on the phone with her brother when an alert sounded. I took cover. And although she ultimately didn’t feel the quake, she’s glad she moved to a safer place.

As someone who has lived in earthquake-prone areas like Alaska and San Francisco, she knows the toll they can take.

“It scared me, yeah,” she said of the alert. “But being able to shelter in place is better than not.”


Associated Press writers Brian Milley in Los Angeles and Kathleen Ronen in Sacramento contributed to this report.


Sophie Austin is a staff member for the Associated Press/Reporting for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report on America It is a nonprofit national service program that puts journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Follow Austin on Twitter: @employee

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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