Cal OES to launch statewide warning system on 30th anniversary of Loma Prieta earthquake

California Connection
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area on Oct. 17, 1989, causing extensive damage and killing 63 people.

“We all need to be prepared as Californians,” said Cal OES Seismic Hazards Branch Chief Ryan Arba. “We know the ‘big one’ is coming someday.”

Thursday morning, on the 30th anniversary of Loma Prieta, Cal OES will announce the launch of the nation’s first statewide earthquake early warning system.

Designed at the University of California, Berkeley, it will use data from the United States Geological Survey’s network of sensors up and down the state. As soon as shaking begins, the system will send out warnings through media and a smartphone app.

“It makes an estimation of what the ground shaking would be at any person’s location,” Arba told FOX40. “So, the goal for this system is to be able to detect the earthquake as fast as possible and send you an alert before the shaking comes to your location.”

The Loma Prieta anniversary has also been designated for a worldwide earthquake drill called the Great ShakeOut. In California alone, 10 million people are registered to participate in earthquake drills.

Even in Sacramento, which does not sit on any major fault lines, people are not immune from earthquakes.

The city’s buildings have strict seismic codes. At one building on 10th and K streets, seismic shock absorbers can be seen through the window.

Loma Prieta was felt strongly in the Sacramento region.

“And, in fact, a lot of people who live here in the Sacramento area may travel to our more high-risk earthquake areas such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles,” Arba said.

A couple of quakes in the Bay Area this week, the strongest measuring 4.5 in magnitude, were the latest reminders of the importance of preparing for the “big one.”

“Having an emergency preparedness kit, working with your family to create a plan,” Arba explained. “Bookshelves and other items that may be loose can fall down and that’s where people get hurt. So, taking a moment to secure those bookshelves or if you have fine china, for example.”

“So it’s something we just have to be ready for at any time.”


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