Experimental Early Warning System Shows Promise in Napa Quake

Despite the devastation wrought by Napa’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Sunday, experts say there is a silver lining, as the tremor further exposed the vast potential of California’s experimental earthquake warning system.

The ShakeAlert system, which was created in part by the University of California-Berkeley Seismology Laboratory, was able to sound a cautionary alarm 10 seconds in advance. The early warning was received by the lab, as well as Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and other agencies who are currently testing out the system.

“It’s not a public system right now, so only a small group of test users, about 150, get it, but if we were to turn this into a public system, then everybody could get it on their cell phones so they could duck, cover and hold on and reduce the amount of damage or injuries that occur during an earthquake,” said the lab’s director, Richard Allen

While the system has succeeded before, this was its first test during a major quake.

ShakeAlert’s most recent success has already led to renewed calls for a statewide alert system, but funding remains a major obstacle. The estimated price tag for a statewide early warning system comes out to $80 million over for 5 years.

Read more about the early warning system here.