Courtesy of Washington Military Department

Courtesy of Washington Military Department

Washington gets mobile earthquake alerts

Washington state will have its own earthquake early warning system on May 4 when ShakeAlert goes live, which could give residents precious seconds to prepare before the ground begins to shake.

The system is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and can quickly alert people of an impending earthquake. The alert system quickly detects earthquakes, including an estimate of the earthquake’s size and location, and delivers alerts to mobile phones. The warning system will mean Washington has joined both Oregon and California in having a warning system.

Android phone users can receive notifications through both the Wireless Emergency Alerts and through their phone’s built-in software, which doesn’t require a specific app. However, the alerts will only be received if the device’s location setting is on, and Earthquake Alerts is enabled in their location settings, according to the Washington Military Department.

The majority of injuries in earthquakes are caused by people falling down or being hit by falling objects. While the alerts don’t provide much time to take cover — it can be anywhere from seconds to tens of seconds, depending on where the earthquake strikes — it could be enough to allow people to find shelter. The alert can also give trains and planes on the runway enough time to begin slowing, and prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels.

“Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake,” according to the ShakeAlert website. “It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event.”

Earthquakes are common on the West Coast. The Snoqualmie Valley experienced a magnitude 2.5 earthquake as recently as April 28. While small shakes like this can go unnoticed, and are unlikely to cause damage, large shakes have happened in recent memory — and larger ones are expected.

In 2001, the Nisqually earthquake struck Washington state. The 6.8 magnitude quake caused between $1 billion and $4 billion in damages. Then there’s The Big One, the name given to an expected 9.0 magnitude earthquake. While it’s unknown when this earthquake will strike, it’s expected to cause widespread damage and a tsunami that will strike Washington’s coastline. According to a 2018 Seattle Weekly article, experts predicted a 14% chance that a large Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake would occur within the next 50 years.

The last known subduction earthquake was in 1700, and sent massive tsunamis ripping across the Pacific Ocean, striking the Pacific Northwest and Japan. Geological records indicate that these earthquakes strike roughly every 400 to 600 years.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Fire inflicted heavy damage to the second floor and roof of the 2-story apartment-and ground-floor retail building at 115 East Main Street beginning late on the night of Friday July 23 and continuing into early Saturday morning. The Valley Regional Fire Authority reports that all residents got out safely. Photo courtesy Auburn Police Department.
Fire sweeps downtown Auburn apartment building, all residents out safely

Firefighters had to rescue two residents from the roof of an apartment… Continue reading

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington State Supreme Court… Continue reading

Stock Photo
Condo prices in South King County surge during pandemic

The value of condominiums in King County increased during the pandemic, with… Continue reading

Stock photo
Face coverings again recommended for indoor public settings

Regardless of vaccination status, says Public Health – Seattle & King County

t
Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reason why.

King County Logo
Two weeks left to apply for small business grants in unincorporated King County

Funds of up to $25,000 can reimburse expenses incurred by COVID-19

infographic created by Coltura
Study suggests that the top 10 percent of gasoline-using drivers consume one-third of all the gas

Researchers believe converting “gasoline superusers” is an important factor in meeting climate goals

David Munden
Buckley’s Munden will coach Team USA at 2022 Maccabiah Games

Buckley’s David Munden to coach karate Team USA at 2022 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Image courtesy the National Park Service
Fires banned throughout Mt. Rainier National Park

The fire ban follows similar bans on adjacent state and U.S. Forest Service lands.

Most Read