Public earthquake warning system could be available in a year

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is developing a warning system in collaboration with several other agencies and universities on the west coast. (KOMO News)

People in Western Washington could be about a year away from having a public earthquake early warning system on their phones.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is developing a warning system in collaboration with several other agencies and universities on the west coast.

Bill Steele, a spokesperson for the PNSN, says a pilot system is already in place with around 100 researchers, agencies and business already receiving alerts.

Users in Seattle received a 10-second warning before Friday morning’s 4.6 magnitude earthquake.

Steele says a public warning app could be available as soon as one year from now, though he says that is pending public education and approval from the state of Washington.

When an earthquake starts, it sends out p waves, which don’t typically produce damage but do trigger sensors. Within milliseconds, the lab is notified and can send out an alert before the shaking begins.

That gives people time to find a place to “drop, cover and hold on.”

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