California governor Gavin Newsom announced a new state-wide system, created in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, that will provide California residents with an early warning for coming earthquakes. Part of the system is an emergency messaging system that sends text warnings, similar to those that cell phone users already get for floods and missing persons. The other component of the system is a new app called MyShake, which will give people “tens of seconds” advance notice before a quake strikes. If you are in a house, that might be enough time to get to a safe spot away from falling furniture. If you are on the road, it may be enough time to pull off the road or stop before a bridge or tunnel.
According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, “The system uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them and will notify Californians so that they can ‘Drop, cover and hold on’ in advance of an earthquake.” A similar app called ShakeAlertLA was unveiled in January, but was only available to L.A. residents. Additionally, an early warning system had already been in place in California, but many believed that it was not sensitive enough. This summer, after two major earthquakes hit a desert area outside of Los Angeles the week of July 4th, L.A. residents complained that they had not received any warning because the quake’s distance from the city meant that it was strong enough to set off the sensors in Los Angeles.