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ShakeAlert earthquake warnings are available in May for Washington residents

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The US Geological Survey says the earthquake early warning system will be able to send alerts directly to wireless devices in Washington in May and Oregon in March.

The U.S. Geological Survey tells KXRO that, starting March 11, ShakeAlert®-powered earthquake early warning alerts will be available for delivery directly to wireless devices in Oregon.

California already enabled ShakeAlert alerts in October 2019.

The ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning System is a network of sensors that share real-time information about the magnitude, location and vibration expected from earthquakes on the West Coast, and send it to mobile phones and the Internet.

In addition, alarm system partners will be able to use this information to initiate automatic protection measures such as stopping trains to prevent deviations and shutting water valves to protect the infrastructure.

“ShakeAlert can save lives and reduce injuries by giving people time to take preventive measures, such as moving away from dangerous areas and ensuring that they fall, cover and continue. ShakeAlert complements existing products from the Advanced National Seismic System that contribute to earthquake risk reduction.”

For the first time, ShakeAlert-powered alerts will be delivered directly to wireless devices in Oregon starting March 11, 2021.

Oregon will be the second state to “go straight”, after California on October 17, 2019. Washington state will join Oregon and California in May 2021, which will complete wireless alert delivery across the entire continental west coast.

For more than two years, an increasing number of ShakeAlert technology partners in the three states have been using the ShakeAlert system to initiate automated actions in support of public safety. Although ShakeAlert is operating in all three states, the United States Geological Survey and its university and government partners are working to finish building a seismic network to support the immediate detection of earthquakes. The network is now 70% complete for the West Coast, with 1,132 out of 1,675 seismic stations installed as of January 31, 2021.

“The launch of the ShakeAlert Public Alert 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 are exposed to damaging vibrations in future earthquakes,” Gavin Hayes, USGS chief science advisor for earthquakes and geological hazards said. “This represents a major achievement for USGS, ANSS, and our regional and international partners.”

Earthquake Early Warning in the Pacific Northwest

In 2012, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, a regional network for the Advanced National Seismic System managed by the United States Geological Survey, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon, joined the earthquake early warning efforts that began in California in 2006.

The integration of the national wireless network into the ShakeAlert system extended the USGS ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system across the entire Pacific coast of the US mainland.

The vast majority of these alerts will be for earthquakes smaller than M7. In these scenarios, ShakeAlert users who will experience strong vibration (or worse) should expect warning times of less than 10 seconds after which it becomes difficult to take preventive measures due to the intense vibration.

In these earthquakes, there will be an area near the epicenter where the vibrations arrive before the warning. People should take precautionary measures as soon as they feel a vibration whether or not they receive a alert.

Upcoming events

To help Pacific Northwest residents learn how to use ShakeAlert, several events and resources have been scheduled for the next few months.

February 18: Pacific Northwest ShakeAlert Ask Me Anything on Reddit February 25: ShakeAlert Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) Show in Washington State March 11: ShakeAlert-Powered Alert Delivery Service for Wireless Devices Launched in Oregon May 2021: ShakeAlert-Powered Alert Delivery To wireless devices live in Washington

On Thursday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. PST, Washington’s Department of Emergency Management and the US Geological Survey will deliver ShakeAlert-powered WEA test letter through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System over wireless devices in King counties and Pierce and Thurston.

This test coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Niskwale earthquake of February 28, 2001, the most recent devastating earthquake in Washington.

“There are a lot of people who remember the Niskwally earthquake,” said Maximilian Dickson, Supervisor of Geological Hazards at Maximilian Dickson. “The Earthquake Early Warning System (EWS) test is a great way for us to prepare for the launch of the Wireless Public Alert in May.” Washington Department of Emergency Management. “Testing the WEA distribution of ShakeAlert-powered alerts on February 25 is an important step before the launch of the Public Wireless Alert in May. This is all part of a massive effort to reduce earthquake and tsunami risks in our state.”

To participate in this test, members of the public in these three provinces will need to sign up.

The device may vibrate and / or make a distinctive sound and a message will appear in a text window on the screen. Depending on your phone’s language setting, the WEA test message will show:

Participating in a survey during testing will also help improve future notification delivery using the ShakeAlert system. For directions on how to take the test and participate in the survey, visit https://mil.wa.gov/alerts.

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