Oregon and Washington mobile phone users will soon have access to ready information on regional seismic activity. Starting March 11, earthquake early warning alerts will be available for delivery directly to wireless devices in Oregon.
The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system is a network of sensors that collects and shares real-time information about the magnitude, location and expected shaking from earthquakes on the West Coast to distribution partners who then deliver alerts via cell phones and the internet. Partners can also initiate automatic protective actions such as stopping trains to prevent derailments and closing water valves to protect infrastructure.
In May 2021, Washington state will follow suit and complete the ShakeAlert public alerting rollout across the entire West Coast. California enabled ShakeAlert-powered alerts in October 2019.
As massive slabs of Earth squish into and grind past each other off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, many people may wonder when they will feel ensuing earthquakes, stated a United States Geological Survey press release.
Although the USGS cannot predict where and when future earthquakes will occur, the bureau, along with a team of organizations, helped create a system that can provide vital seconds of warning that an earthquake is happening and shaking is imminent.
According to a press release, ShakeAlert can save lives and reduce injuries by giving people time to take protective actions, such as moving away from hazardous areas and making sure to drop, cover and hold on. ShakeAlert complements existing products from the Advanced National Seismic System that contribute to earthquake risk reduction.
For the first time, ShakeAlert-powered alerts will be delivered directly to wireless devices in Oregon starting on March 11, 2021. Oregon will be the second state to ”go live,” following California on Oct. 17, 2019. Washington state will join Oregon and California in May 2021, which will complete the wireless alert delivery rollout across the entire continental West Coast.
For more than two years, a growing number of ShakeAlert technical partners in all three states have been using the ShakeAlert system for triggering automated actions to support public safety.
Although ShakeAlert is operational in all three states, the USGS and its university and state partners are working to finish building the seismic network to support prompt earthquake detection.
The network is now 70 percent complete for the West Coast, with 1,132 out of 1,675 seismic stations installed as of Jan. 31.
“The rollout of public alerting for ShakeAlert in the Pacific Northwest is a major milestone in the evolution of this critical system and hasthe potential to provide users with life-saving warnings seconds before they experience damaging shaking in future earthquakes,” Gavin Hayes, USGS senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards, said. “This represents a major achievement for the USGS, the ANSS and for our state and regional partners.”