SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In the coming years, Californians could have valuable seconds of warning before earthquakes such as this week’s wine country temblor reach them, allowing trains to slow down or stop, power plants and factories to shut off valves, and schoolchildren to dive under desks to avoid falling objects.
Earthquake early warning systems that provide such notice are in place in Mexico and Japan. But California has lagged behind those countries, and is still trying to identify funding sources for the roughly $80 million needed to implement an early-warning system in the state.
Sunday’s rolling 6.0 shake near Napa has led to renewed calls for its quick deployment before another, possibly more destructive temblor strikes. Researchers are testing a system that could provide tens of seconds of warning, but it is not available for public use.
“(Mexico and Japan) acted after large tragic earthquakes that claimed thousands of lives,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, said. “I hope we don’t wait for a tragedy of that scale to finally act here in California.”
Richard Allen, director of the University of California, Berkeley, Seismological Lab, said his lab received a 10-second advance notice estimating a 5.7-magnitude quake and warning of light shaking before the seismic waves from Sunday’s quake arrived there. Allen is among the researchers testing the earthquake warning system envisioned as the basis for the state’s system.
Berkeley is about 40 miles from the quake’s epicenter and did not experience any damage during the quake, but in a more violent temblor, 10 seconds could have made a big difference, he said.
“A few seconds means that you can move to your safe zone, that you can get under that sturdy table; that way you are not going to be injured by falling fireplaces and ceiling lights. We see a large number of injuries resulting from these kinds of incidents.”
The systems can’t predict quakes, and are not effective at the epicenter, where the tremors go out almost simultaneously. The warning people receive — a few seconds to tens of seconds — depends on the distance from the epicenter.
Napa, where scores were injured in Sunday’s earthquake and much of the damage occurred, would have received at most a second of warning, said Thomas Heaton, a professor of engineering seismology at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Still, Heaton said the system’s real value is in serving as a command-and-control center that can relay messages to other automated systems such as trains, slowing them down and avoiding further damage even if the shaking has already begun.
“It’s important for people to keep this in perspective,” he said. “It’s a new kind of tool, but it’s not a panacea.”
Mexico’s system — developed after a 1985 quake that killed thousands — only measures quakes on the country’s West Coast and alerts a limited area, Heaton said. Japan’s system is countrywide and more similar to what California is pursuing.
During the 2011 Japanese disaster, millions of people received 5 to 40 seconds of warning depending on how far they were from the epicenter. The notices were sent to cellphones and broadcast over airwaves.
In a bill authored by Padilla and signed by the governor last year, California directed the state’s Office of Emergency Services to identify sources of funding for an early-warning system and develop it. The money cannot come from state general funds but doesn’t specify alternatives.
Mark Ghilarducci, the officer’s director, said Sunday that officials are looking at two-year time frame to get the system in place.
“We have been working diligently on implementing an earthquake early warning program throughout the state,” he said. “The system does have validity.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement Monday, calling for “political resolve to deploy such a system.”
She continued, “Officials in Washington and along the West Coast should partner with the private sector to make an interoperable earthquake early-warning system a reality, and we should do so as soon as possible before a much larger earthquake strikes.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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