Washington is falling way behind California on earthquake safety

Nov 2, 2018, 5:33 AM | Updated: 11:44 am
KIRO 7 tracks the trio of Vancouver Island earthquakes, earthquake alert...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The ShakeAlert system is designed to warn the West Coast in the moments before an earthquake strikes, but Washington state remains woefully under-prepared.

ShakeAlert has already taken hold in California, with a municipal employee test in Los Angeles set to go out to 10,000 people later in 2018. Meanwhile, Washington could still be years away from getting fully integrated.

Northwest Earthquake Tracker

ShakeAlert is designed to send out a mobile notification in seconds, and even minutes before a major earthquake strikes. It relies on a network of sensors up and down the West Coast, and Washington is falling behind on getting it up and running, locally.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 277 of the 560 seismic stations needed statewide for ShakeAlert are unfunded, a stark contrast to the $25 million California has poured into its own sensors.

“The sensors are supposed to be funded by the federal government, but there are funding gaps there,” KIRO 7’s Graham Johnson told the Ron and Don Show on KIRO Radio. “That is where the state of California stepped in, but Washington has not yet done that.”

Washington is held back by a number of factors, most prominently the way earthquakes aren’t truly ingrained in the state’s culture, especially compared to our neighbors down south in California.

“It is really part of the culture there, it’s part of the mindset,” said Johnson.

Combined with a lack of special interests pushing for it in Washington’s state legislature, and things have lagged behind in a big way.

RELATED: 15 percent chance the PNW could be hit by a mega-quake, says earthquake experts
Check out MyNorthwest’s earthquake tracker

Ron and Don

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Washington is falling way behind California on earthquake safety