Pres. Trump's proposed budget cuts funding for early earthquake warning systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Western Washington residents, and particularly those in the Seattle area, have long been concerned about "the big one" -- where, when and how severe, an earthquake will be once it hits.

With the recent "swarm" of earthquakes that registered in the Bremerton area and vivid memories of the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, many area residents may be disheartened to learn that President Trump's proposed budget for the year ending 2018 does not include funding for early earthquake warning systems.

Scientists have been hoping to build early warning systems that could eventually send earthquake alerts to the public via smartphones.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the budget would eliminate federal funding for an earthquake early warning system that is being developed for California and the rest of the West Coast. The proposed budget also eliminates funding of tsunami monitoring stations and next-generation weather forecasting systems.

In April The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) announced the rollout of a new version of the earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert, which is fully integrated across the entire West Coast.

“Federal investment in science matters,” U.S. representative Derek Kilmer said at the time.

If the president's budget is passed, the future of implementing, and expanding, these programs is in jeopardy.

"It probably would kill the early warning system if we thought there were no more funding coming from the U.S. Geological Survey," John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and a seismology professor at the University of Washington, told the LA Times.

“The money we’ve received is essential,” he added.

EEW detects and measures earthquakes fast enough that warning can be given before the strongest shaking arrives, providing seconds to minutes to prepare, PNSN reports. Earthquake early warning is being implemented in a number of locations worldwide.

PNSN said the 2011 Tohuku Earthquake demonstrated some of the advantages of such as system as the quake was recognized as serious within 30 seconds of its start offshore. Tokyo residents had approximately 30 seconds warning that an earthquake was happening and cell phone alarms warned millions of people when large aftershocks were likely to hit.