California Unveils New Earthquake Warning System

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.

How Much Warning Time Will California’s Earthquake App Give?

(TNS) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to unveil the state's new earthquake early warning app, MyShake, at 11 a.m. Thursday, available on iOS and Android on the 30th anniversary of the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. The announcement will be streamed live.

How much warning would MyShake have provided if an earthquake warning system were available in 1989?

California Emergency Alerts Improved, but Far from Perfected

(TNS) — Wikiup resident Susan Sloan was prepared in 2017 when fires broke out on a Sunday night in October across Sonoma County.

She was among several thousand residents who had signed up for official emergency notifications through the county’s opt-in warning program, SoCo Alert. She had a landline telephone to receive the automated call alerting her to a fire just before midnight Oct. 8. Then the power went out.

“You could see the glow from behind the hills,” Sloan recalled. “My neighbors had come out onto their deck. They said it was just a warning, ‘Everything is fine.’?”

PG&E Shut-offs Could be Catastrophic, California Officials Say

(TNS) - Northern California communities hit by some of the worst wildfires the state has ever seen are now preparing for another kind of disaster: prolonged power shut-offs caused intentionally by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

PG&E has used its aggressive new strategy to prevent its equipment from starting another fire only on one weekend so far this year. But the utility is poised to turn off the lights much more in the coming months as hot, dry and windy weather persists during the most dangerous part of wildfire season.

The impacts may be extreme and unprecedented, cutting entire cities off from the electric grid for several days in the worst-case scenarios. In those instances, stoplights and even cell phones could stop working properly, local officials say, snarling traffic and hamstringing residents’ ability to communicate.

Santa Cruz, Calif., Residents Urged to Be ‘Firewise’

(TNS) — After five years of drought, Santa Cruzans became familiar with ways to make their lawns “water wise.”

Now, city public safety officials are hoping to make residents “firewise,” as well.

Santa Cruz Fire Department officials on Wednesday recognized volunteers from the Prospect Heights neighborhood for their efforts to earn Santa Cruz County’s first National Fire Protection Association certification for a Firewise USA program participant.

Oregon Lagging on Disaster Preparedness, Scientists Warn

Oregon state lawmakers abandoned a multimillion-dollar project to develop early warning systems for earthquakes and wildfires, and scientists warn that the funding shake-up could endanger public safety and put Oregon further behind other West Coast states in preparing for natural disasters.

Researchers were shocked when nearly $12 million to expand ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire – early warning systems to help detect significant earthquakes and wildfires – unexpectedly went up in smoke last month, just days before the end of the legislative session. Money for the projects was included as part of a larger funding package, but was stripped in a last-minute amendment.

ShakeAlertLA Works, but Residents Want Even More Notice

(TNS) — More than 500,000 people have downloaded Los Angeles County’s new ShakeAlertLA app to warn them of impending earthquakes.

So when the two strongest earthquakes in almost two decades hit Southern California this month, those residents were surprised by what they saw on their smartphones: nothing.

Officials were quick to explain to outraged app users that the shaking in the county wasn’t strong enough to trigger an alert.

California Hopes Emergency Projects Guard Against Wildfires

(TNS) — After battling the most destructive wildfires in California’s history over the past two years, Cal Fire is rolling out emergency fuel reduction projects to help protect the state’s most vulnerable communities.

The 35 projects span the state, from Siskiyou to San Diego counties. One crucial effort in the Sacramento area, the North Fork American River Shaded Fuel Break, is a fuel break project that covers 850 acres around the city of Colfax in Placer County.

A fuel break is an area of land where vegetation has been transformed to make fires more controllable, Cal Fire officials told reporters Thursday at the Colfax project site. Methods involve chipping and prescribed burning.

More Electricity Outages to Hit California. How to Prepare

(TNS) — The era of available electricity whenever and wherever needed is officially over in wildfire-plagued California.

Pacific Gas & Electric served stark notice of that “new normal” this past weekend when it pre-emptively shut power to tens of thousands of customers in five Northern California counties. The utility warned that it could happen again, perhaps repeatedly, this summer and fall as it seeks to avoid triggering disastrous wildfires.

The dramatic act has prompted questions and concerns: What criteria did PG&E use? Did the shutdowns prevent any fires? And what can residents do to prepare for what could be days without electricity?

California Utilities Plan for the Dry, Hot Fire ‘Season’

(TNS) — With temperatures soaring and strong winds blowing through forests across Northern California over the weekend, rural areas in the Sierra Nevada foothills plunged into darkness after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off high-voltage transmission lines to avoid sparking wildfires.

The first formal deployment of its new Public Safety and Power Shutoff rules left more than 20,500 PG&E customers in portions of Butte and Yuba counties without power as 260 utility personnel conducted safety patrols, repaired electric infrastructure and inspected 800 miles of transmission and distribution lines, officials said.

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