Earthquake Early Alert System Ready to Expand in California

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Vickie Katsubayashi looks at a red-tagged home near downtown Napa after the 6.0-magnitude earthquake in August. (Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Officials are planning the first major rollout of California’s earthquake early warning system next year, providing access to some schools, fire stations and more private companies.

The ambitious plan highlights the progress scientists have made in building out the system, which can give as much as a minute of warning before a major earthquake is felt in metropolitan areas.

Until now, only academics, select government agencies and a few private firms have received the alerts. But officials said they are building a new, robust central processing system and now have enough ground sensors in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas to widen access. They stressed the system is far from perfected but said expanded access will help determine how it works and identify problems.

The warnings would allow fire stations to get garage doors open before a quake can jam them shut, instruct students to duck and cover, and, eventually, automatically shut off sensitive equipment at private companies and tell surgeons to halt surgery. When the data is more reliable, even amusement parks could have time to shut down rides.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

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