At 5:04 p.m. 30 years ago Thursday, the ground shook under the Santa Cruz Mountains and traveled to San Francisco, creating chaos. Now … 30 years later … we have an early warning system that can save lives, even if it is seconds.
It took about six seconds for the energy to hit Santa Cruz, about 15 to 20 seconds to get to San Jose and 30 to 35 seconds to get to the northern edge of San Francisco. As a World Series game was getting underway at Candlestick Park, the shaking began to collapse a portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and flattened a double-decker section of Interstate 880 in Oakland.
In 1989, there was no way to warn residents that the shaking from one of California’s most destructive earthquakes was on its way. That robbed millions of people of precious seconds to prepare.
Officials aim to make sure that won’t be the case with a future quake. On Thursday, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services will unveil an app created by UC Berkeley that will give all Californians who download it on iOS and Android phones the chance to get earthquake early warnings from any corner of the state.
Authorities will also begin issuing quake early warnings through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, offering text message alerts even for people who have not downloaded the app.
The unveiling of the new version of UC Berkeley’s MyShake app is a major achievement in the years of efforts to bring California an earthquake early warning system. Until Thursday, only people with the city of Los Angeles’ ShakeAlertLA app and physically present in Los Angeles County could get the alerts.
Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismology Lab, said a few seconds of warning can give people time to drop, cover and hold on before the shaking begins.
As always, stay tuned to official forecasts from Southern California Weather Force for updates …
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