L.A. Now Live: Can early earthquake warnings save lives?

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Earthquake experts say every second of advance warning counts.

And now, they want California to create an earthquake early warning system similar to those in Japan, Mexico and even Romania. Times reporter Ron Lin will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss their proposal.

In the 2011 Japan earthquake, a sensor embedded in the ground detected the first signs of movement and immediately sent out an alert at the speed of light. Within seconds, text messages warning of impending shaking went out to roughly 50 million people.

Many people in Tokyo, 200 miles away from the epicenter, knew the quake was coming before they felt the shaking about 30 seconds later. Trains were able to slow down or stop, and not a single car derailed.


State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) is proposing legislation to create the statewide network. California already has hundreds of ground sensors measuring earth movement, but experts said another $80 million is needed to expand and upgrade the monitors. They said the system could be up and running in two years if funding is found.

An early warning system could be particularly beneficial in Southern California, which is at risk of a major temblor on the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas is located far enough away from metropolitan Los Angeles that officials believe residents would have a one-minute warning of the huge quake.