Earthquake warning system ShakeAlert coming to Washington in May

Earthquake warning system ShakeAlert coming to Washington in May
Stock photo of a seismometer. (Gary S Chapman/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake early warning system known as ShakeAlert will be capable of delivering alerts directly to wireless devices to Washington state in May.

The USGS announced the target for completing the West Coast rollout on Tuesday.

The ShakeAlert system warns of significant quakes and has been enabled in California since October 2019.

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The system uses a network of sensors that detect the start of an earthquake and calculates magnitude, location and the expected amount of shaking from earthquakes on the West Coast.

It sends the information in real-time to distributors that send out alerts to cellphones and the internet.

“The rollout of public alerting for ShakeAlert in the Pacific Northwest is a major milestone in the evolution of this critical system and has the 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.”

The network is now 70% complete for the West Coast, with 1,132 out of 1,675 seismic stations installed as of Jan. 31, 2021.

Alerts will be available in Oregon on Mar. 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.