SACRAMENTO, CA - Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a new bill into law that will create a statewide early warning system for earthquakes.
The bill directs the Office of Emergency Services to come up with a way to raise the system's $80 million price tag and a plan for it's development.
"Our population has long been educated to know what to do, to drop, cover and hold on when an earthquake occurs. This may give people an few extra seconds of advance notice to take those protective actions," said Cal OES Deputy Director for Planning, Preparedness and Prevention Tina Curry.
The plan would add sensors to a system already in place in parts of the state to give up to 40 seconds warning before the worst shockwaves of a big quake hit.
Japan and Mexico already have similar systems in place.
"It's just a matter of having equipment in the right places and to be able to connect that to the alerting systems or the automated actions so that something can happen during that window of time," Curry said.
The early warning system detects the first fast-moving shock wave from a big quake - before the damaging waves spread out, giving engineers or automated systems time to shut down equipment and people time to take cover.
"For example, you can imagine stopping a train that's moving in advance of the ground shaking," Curry said.
Once funding sources are identified, it's not clear how long the build-out of the system would take.
In March, a prototype system gave people in Riverside County up to half a minute of warning time before a magnitude 4.7 quake hit.