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Earthquake warning system to roll out to Oregon, Washington

The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake early warning system known as ShakeAlert will be capable of delivering alerts directly to wireless devices in Oregon on March 11.

Posted: Feb 16, 2021 6:09 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2021 6:12 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake early warning system known as ShakeAlert will be capable of delivering alerts directly to wireless devices in Oregon on March 11 and to Washington state in May.

The USGS announced the target for completing the West Coast rollout on Tuesday. The ShakeAlert system warns of significant quakes and has been enabled in California since October 2019.

"As massive slabs of Earth squish into and grind past each other off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, many people may wonder when they will feel ensuing earthquakes," the agency said in a statement. "Although the U.S. Geological Survey cannot predict where and when future earthquakes will occur, the bureau, along with a team of organizations, helped create a system that can provide vital seconds of warning that an earthquake is happening and shaking is imminent."

The system uses a network of sensors that detect the start of an earthquake and calculates magnitude, location and the expected amount of shaking. It sends the information in real time to distributors that send out alerts to cellphones and the internet.

The alerts are delivered by FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. Oregon will be the second state to ”go live” after California started using the system in 2019.

Oregon's start date coincides with the 10th anniversary of the magnitude-9.1 Great Tohoku earthquake in Japan, which took about 20,000 peoples’ lives. This quake was the strongest in Japan’s history and struck below the North Pacific Ocean, 81 miles east of Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region.

The quake caused a tsunami that produced waves up to 132 feet high and caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 2849
CountyCasesDeaths
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Washington27703258
Marion24391330
Clackamas19818241
Lane14732174
Jackson12414153
Deschutes1049387
Umatilla939694
Linn620281
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Polk426957
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Grant5597
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Harney45511
Wallowa2256
Gilliam851
Sherman812
Wheeler381
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San Joaquin769151460
Contra Costa75842830
Stanislaus655371088
Tulare50324854
Monterey44438526
San Mateo44378588
San Francisco39939563
Solano35703261
Santa Barbara35546467
Merced32961484
Sonoma32526329
Imperial29048745
Placer24955307
Kings23566250
San Luis Obispo21970265
Madera16998249
Santa Cruz16532207
Marin14791239
Yolo14759215
Butte13176205
Shasta12925242
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Napa1040084
Sutter10126115
Yuba694951
San Benito626363
Lassen587626
Tehama583666
Nevada532475
Humboldt501053
Mendocino465851
Tuolumne446173
Lake415765
Amador386148
Siskiyou255440
Glenn246027
Colusa235718
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Del Norte16128
Inyo145338
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Plumas7656
Modoc5737
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