Earthquake Early Warning coming to Washington


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Posted on April 18, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Updated yesterday at 6:59 PM


SEATTLE —  It’s called “earthquake early warning” – a network of seismometers, computers and software  designed to work together to give people time to brace for earthquake shaking.

Scientists say think of it like lightning and thunder.  The further you are away from the lightening, the more seconds there are between seeing a flash and feeling the thunder.

If you’re sitting on top of the quake’s epicenter, there is no warning, but the warning will be longer the further you are from where the quake starts.

The University of Washington, Cal Tech, and the University of California at Berkeley have been working together for years bringing earthquake early warning to the West Coast.  Pieces of the system are starting to go into effect in the more active area of Southern California.

Washington faces a risk of bigger but less frequent mega-quakes off the coast that creates different requirements, but it should start seeing pieces of the system begin operating later this year, said state seismologist John Vidale, who also leads the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network based at the University of Washington.

“It’s about noticing earthquakes fast and telling people the shaking is on the way,” said Vidale.


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