Cell phones around county sound off during quake alert test

SAN DIEGO -- Cell phones around the county sounded a loud alarm late Thursday morning as authorities tested a wireless emergency earthquake alert system.

The test, organized by the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, governor's Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Geological Survey,  was sent out at 11 a.m. to all mobile phones in the county, regardless of whether they belong to a permanent resident or not. The standard test is intended to study the system's effectiveness in warning residents of impending earthquakes.

State and local officials have worked with the USGS to develop the so- called ShakeAlert system since 2006, using underground seismic activity censors to detect the first ripples from an earthquake.

The system's first phase went into effect last fall in California, Oregon and Washington. Eventually, USGS officials hope to continue expanding the alert system across the country with the ability to alert people of earthquakes of a magnitude of 5.0 and above.

"We will notify people seconds before an earthquake," said Robert Degroot with USGS. "You can drop, cover, and hold on in just a couple of seconds."

 

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