SEATTLE (AP) — Washington residents will have new tool to help keep them safe when an earthquake strikes on Tuesday when the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System goes live.
Once launched, ShakeAlert will be able to send residents an alert on their mobile phones, providing valuable seconds of warning to take cover before the shaking from an earthquake reaches their location, KING5 reported.
Washington state has the second-highest earthquake risk in the United States, along with one of the highest tsunami risks, according to the Washington Emergency Management Division. While the system is designed to give residents time to take cover in the event of an earthquake, it cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.
As the ground begins to shake, the ShakeAlert system is designed to detect the earthquake close to the epicenter. As the seismic waves spread, they are picked up by seismic stations operated by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, which provides real-time data to the ShakeAlert system.
How much warning you get depends on how far you are from where the earthquake started. Mobile phones will use location data to determine where you are. In some cases, you may only get a few seconds of warning, in others, a minute or more. But even a few seconds of warning could be enough to get under a table or away from windows.