Northwest early earthquake warning network gets big boost from federal grant

VIDEO: Big federal grant coming to Washington for earthquake warning system

Seismologists at the University of Washington are getting a $10.4 million grant to get their earthquake early warning system ready for the general public.

They've been testing the ShakeAlert system for years but need a lot more seismic monitoring stations to make it fast and reliable enough to serve the general public.

Now, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will get money from the U.S. Geological Survey to put 148 more seismometers in Washington and Oregon.

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The system is designed to give the public a few seconds' warning to get to safety.

"Over half the injuries and losses during earthquakes occur when things fall on people or people fall. By getting in a safe place, ready to ride through the earthquake, you can prevent all those injuries," said Bill Steele, the outreach director for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

The warnings may amount to just a few seconds but Steele points to video from January's earthquake in Alaska to say that's all you may need.

Once the quake started, it took just two seconds for the students in the classroom to duck and cover, he said.

Once the new monitoring stations are installed, the ShakeAlert system could be offered to the public as early as next year.

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