The new warning system will alert Californians who have the app when an quake registering at level 3 on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale strikes nearby.
Today at 10:17 a.m., Sacramento, Placer And Yolo counties will test the Local Emergency Alert System, a system meant to keep people informed about potential disasters.
The launch of the system falls on the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta natural disaster, a 6.9 magnitude quake that hit the central coast of the state and killed 63 people. "The system uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them and will notify Californians so that they can "Drop, cover and hold on" in advance of an quake", the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said in a press release announcing system launch on Thursday.
"The alerts will only go to people that are going to feel shaking", Richard Allen, director of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, told the Gate before explaining the different levels of shaking intensity. Until now, large-scale alerts have only been available in LA County, where they haven't been triggered yet.
The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake struck during a national broadcast of the 1989 World Series and experts have said the lighter-than-normal traffic because of the baseball game may have prevented a greater loss of life.
Gov. Newsom encouraged everyone to download the app to ensure the safety of everyone and their family for the looming quake dubbed as "The Big One". The median times from detection to alerts hitting phones was 2.1 seconds and 1.6 seconds, respectively, Allen said. It allows people to report about their experience during an natural disaster, including how much shaking they felt and how much damage they observe.
It was a commonly held idea that major earthquakes are caused by rupture of single long fault, but that has been reconsidered since a 1992 quake in the desert near Landers, California, ruptured several faults. That means most California quakes originate beneath dry land where people are already living, making it more hard to design an early warning system that gives residents adequate notice to take cover. Newsom and the Legislature included $7.6 million in the budget for a public information campaign that will encourage Californians to sign up for the app and learn more about earthquake safety at earthquake.ca.gov. After a turn at Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites.