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KATU: Early earthquake warning system in Southern California in development in Oregon
Author: Lashay Wesley
Posted: July 8, 2019

To view the original story, visit KATU.

The City of LA has put an early earthquake warning system in the hands of every smart-phone user. The app alerts people if there is an earthquake above 5.0 magnitude.

The US Geological Survey is developing an early earthquake warning system all along the West Coast. LA is the first city to implement the technology.

The system is halfway complete and is expected to be ready by 2021, according to a USGS spokesperson.

Portland State University professor Ashley Streig, Ph.D. said the technology could help detect an earthquake one second or tens of seconds early. The warning may be just a second in advance, but Streig, said its enough to stop trains, halt surgeries in progress and turn on generators.

"It’s really just a function of us trying to communicate with those seismometers faster than the energy travels through the crust," Streig said.

In LA Thursday, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit near Ridgecrest, California. The epicenter was nearly 150 miles away from the City of LA.

People in LA reported shaking, but were not alerted to the strong earthquake.

"Yesterday and tonight's earthquakes were upsetting for many people including some of us scientists who felt these in Pasadena," the USGS ShakeAlert tweeted Friday. "Unfortunately, this quake was faster than we were."

A USGS spokesperson, Robert de Groot, told KATU News the technology worked as planned, but said the public would only be notified if the shaking reached a certain level. De Groot said the alert was designed to warn people if shaking was strong enough to cause items on shelves to fall or where people could be hurt.

The City of Los Angeles said Thursday the shaking in LA wasn't above a 5.0, which is enough to trigger the alert.

The City of Los Angeles said it is working with the USGS to lower the threshold.