Congress Partially Funds California's Early Warning Earthquake System

One senator said the $5 million is a down payment on a long-term purchase for the state's earthquake early warning system.

by / December 15, 2014
Napa, Calif., after the earthquake on Aug. 24. Flickr/janna487
Napa, Calif., after the earthquake on Aug. 24.Flickr/janna487

California’s earthquake early-warning system, years in the making, gained partial Congressional funding, officials reported Dec. 14. The system, which could provide as much as a two-minute early warning before an earthquake was allocated $5 million in funding as part of a $1.1 trillion spending package.

The $5 million in funding will help the state upgrade both its sensing stations and systems to integrate with modern technologies, so that eventually a state-wide system can deliver alerts to smartphones and public safety systems. Similar systems are already running in Japan, Mexico and several other nations, but developing and supporting California’s system for five years is expected to cost $60 million, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

While the state has existing stations that are now used for a few seconds of early warning internally, officials report that many more stations would need to be constructed and existing stations would need upgrades to create a viable sensor network. Sen. Diane Feinstein called the $5 million funding “a down payment.”