In a major achievement years in the making, the U.S. earthquake early warning system will now be able to issue alerts to cellphone users anywhere on the West Coast of the continental U.S. beginning this morning.
On Tuesday at 8 a.m., mobile users in Washington state finally gained access to the earthquake early warning system’s mobile alerts. The alert system for mobile users was launched in Los Angeles in late 2018, and was expanded across the rest of California in late 2019. In March, Oregon mobile phone users began getting access to earthquake early warning system alerts.
The announcement means that anywhere from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, cellphone users are eligible to get early warnings that could give seconds to perhaps more than a minute of warning that shaking from a distant earthquake is on its way. The system works because the speed of today’s communications systems is faster than the speed at which shaking waves move through the ground.
“Now all three states will have alerts delivered to the cellphones,” said Robert de Groot, a U.S. Geological Survey earthquake scientist and communications coordinator for its ShakeAlert early warning system.
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