In yet another example of how America can't seem to fund projects that are actually important or finish them in any reasonable amount of time, the West Coast earthquake warning system known as ShakeAlert, in the works since 2006, still has a long way to go before completion. Back in 2013 we discussed here how the system remained pathetic in comparison to others in Japan and Mexico which just experienced two major earthquakes in the last two weeks (and did you see those videos of buildings collapsing in Mexico City?!?). Fast-forward to 2017, and we learn via NBC Bay Area that ShakeAlert still needs $38.3 million to finish building out its system of monitoring stations 750 out of a necessary 1,675 total stations have been installed so far along the West Coast, with about 250 of those in the Bay Area and it will need to fund an annual maintenance budget of $16 million going forward, once it's done.
That is a lot of money, especially considering the last federal funding we heard about in 2015 was just $8.3 million, approved by Congress. To date, about $26.4 million has been allocated to the ShakeAlert project, though it's unclear why after 11 years it would remain only 50 percent complete.
Seriously. What is taking so long?
An early warning system already in place in Japan in 2011 gave residents there warning of the major earthquake that struck in March 2011.
The ShakeAlert technology is expected to be rolled out in California schools in 2018, as NBC Bay Area reports, and "While the system remains in the testing phase, BART, PG&E and LA Metro already use the program to quickly shut off services in the event of an earthquake." Ultimately, ShakeAlert will be able to send alerts to everyone's cellphones, and even their computers, warning them of shaking anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute before it starts, potentially saving many lives.
And, as we all should know well after reports every time we get a tremor here, the Bay Area is DUE for a major earthquake, with the USGS predicting we will get a 6.0M or above in the next 30 years, with 98 percent certainty and FYI, they've been saying that for well over 10 years.
Here, a chart from NBC Bay Area, via USGS data, showing just how quiet the earthquake activity has been here since 1906, relatively.
A video below from two years back explains how the ShakeAlert system will work once it's complete and it touts how test users in San Francisco got an alert on their phones in 2014 eight seconds before the shaking from the Napa earthquake hit the city.
And if you don't have an earthquake kit yet, now is as good a time as any!!