New Delhi, Apr 6: An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hit off the Southern California coast on Thursday. However, some residents knew about the earthquake before it even hit. Those who had the beta Quake Alert application on their smartphones received about a 30-second warning before tremors were felt.
Alissa Walker, an editor at the real estate blog Curbed, had a 34-second warning before the earthquake struck the Southern California coast. “That was the first earthquake I’ve felt since I got access to the @ beta app. I had 34 seconds warning—enough time to drop, cover, and hold on, which I would have done if I knew shaking was going to be strong,” she tweeted.
The Quake Alert application works by a network of seismic sensors that detect P-waves — the first energy that radiates from an earthquake, according to Early Warning Labs, a Santa Monica-based company that works with the USGS on early warning systems.
The seismic sensors detect the location and the magnitude of the earthquake as well. Once the Quake Alert app detects the longitudinal P-waves, it sends a warning before the S-wave, which is more powerful and causes the most damage.
The app also sends warnings to local and state public emergency response officials, infrastructure (such as to gas lines, subway systems and power plants) and to private businesses and the public, Early Warning Labs said.
Countries such as Japan, Taiwan and Mexico already have early warning systems for earthquakes. People in Mexico received up to a 60-second warning in the magnitude-8.1 earthquake that hit Sept. 8, 2017.
Even if it’s just a few seconds, the warning from the Quack Alert can give people time to duck, cover and hold before the earthquake hits. Those who are driving can slow or stop their vehicles before the tremors. You can sign up for a beta version of the app can sign up at the Quake Alert website. There is a waiting list to join following its successful test during California earthquake.