The success of an early warning system during Sunday's 6.0 magnitude Napa earthquake is generating more support for the fledgling network.
Scientists at UC Berkeley released a video showing the system sending an alert to their computers when the quake struck. Officials said the system provided an alert 10 seconds before the quake was felt at Berkeley.
Though Napa would not have gotten a warning because of its proximity to the epicenter of the earthquake, Richard Allen, director of UC Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory, said the alert showed the promise of the technology.
The system works because while earthquakes travel at the speed of sound, sensors that initially detect the shaking near the epicenter of a quake can send a message faster -- at the speed of light -- to warn residents farther away that the quake is coming.
In July, a congressional committee recommended the first federal funds -- $5 million -- specifically for the project.
“I believe an integrated earthquake early warning system is essential to save lives and property," she said in a statement. "Two bills from the
California is working to complete a statewide system, which could be unveiled in the next few years.
Once fully developed, the system could give downtown Los Angeles 40 to 50 seconds of warning that the "Big One" was headed from the San Andreas fault, giving time for elevators to stop at the next floor and open up, firefighters to open up garage doors, high-speed trains to slow down to avoid derailment and surgeons to take the scalpel out of a patient.