An early warning system for earthquakes launched in Oregon on the 10th anniversary of the 2011 devastating quake and tsunami in Japan.

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ShakeAlert®-powered earthquake early warning alerts are now available for delivery directly to wireless devices in Oregon.

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In May 2021, Washington state will follow suit and complete the ShakeAlert public alerting rollout across the entire West Coast. California enabled ShakeAlert-powered alerts in October 2019.

Earthquakes in the Cascadia subduction zone, which extends from the ocean off Northern California to Canada’s Vancouver Island, have an average magnitude of around 9, making them among the world’s biggest.

Tomislav Zivkovic

A quake in that zone has a 37% probability of happening off Oregon in the next 50 years, with a slightly lower chance of one striking near Washington state, according to Chris Goldfinger, an Oregon State University professor and earthquake geologist.

“When a Cascadia event happens, the critical seconds of notice ShakeAlert warnings provide will save lives and reduce damage to important lifeline systems,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said.

Earthquake Warning Sign
Bastien Bonaim

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 system cannot predict an earthquake but can give people a jump on seeking cover from falling objects and time to brace themselves.

When an earthquake is detected, people who have alerts activated on their smartphones will get a message saying, "Earthquake detected! Drop, cover, hold on. Protect yourself." Mobile apps also carry the alerts.


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