The U.S. Geological Survey’s ShakeAlert tool is now in use in Oregon. The state’s Office of Emergency Management has held a public webinar which can be viewed on the Office’s web site and itsYouTube channel, closed-captioned in English and Spanish, with translation options available for other languages.
Major earthquakes are rare in Oregon, and people sometimes become blasé about them. Some years ago, a quake on the seafloor raised the possibility of a major tsunami striking the Oregon Coast, and an alert went out to warn people living near the coast – only to have it inspire thousands of people to rush west, hoping to get a look at the tsunami as it arrived – which, fortunately for them, it did not.
Even so, there is an average of one earthquake per day of magnitude 1.5 or less in the Pacific Northwest. Two people died and $7.5M worth of damage was done by the Klamath Falls Earthquake of 1993, and most people know that Oregon is overdue for a truly catastrophic earthquake from the Cascadia Subduction Fault.
While ShakeAlert can’t predict an earthquake or give any warning of its duration or severity, once ShakeAlert is enabled on your phone, the OEM can send you a warning ahead of the tremor after an earthquake has begun. Your phone will make a distinctive sound and display the message “Earthquake detected! Drop, cover, hold on. Protect yourself.”
Or if desired, the message displayed will read, <<¡Terremotodetectado! Agáchate, cúbrete, espera. Protégete a timismo.>>
The text message may be read aloud by phones with a text-to-voice function.
OEM predicts that the few seconds of advanced warning which ShakeAlert provides will make a big difference in saving lives, preventing injury and preventing property damage. ShakeAlert will also be connected to many automatic systems to shut off gas valves and begin slowing trains in the event of a quake.
No signup is required, only adjusting phone settings according to directions found at ORShakeAlert.us.
By John M. Burt