Earthquake early warning system now available to Oregonians
Salem, OR (STL.News) Governor Kate Brown today proclaimed March 11 as ShakeAlert Day, in recognition of the activation of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System in Oregon, and the day that coincides with the 10th anniversary of the magnitude 9.1 Great Tohoku, Japan earthquake. Alerting is now available directly to individual wireless devices in Oregon. The Governor’s proclamation encourages all Oregonians to join in the observance.
“One of my top priorities is to improve the state’s resilience from hazards like earthquakes, wildfires, and other disasters,” said Governor Brown. “Thanks to support from the Oregon Legislature and our congressional delegation, Oregonians are safer today. When a Cascadia event happens, the critical seconds of notice ShakeAlert warnings provide will save lives and reduce damage to important lifeline systems.”
Operated in Oregon by the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, ShakeAlert uses science and technology to detect significant earthquakes quickly so that alerts can reach people before shaking arrives. Alerts are delivered to the public via Wireless Emergency Alerts (text messages) and mobile apps.
“As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the devastating Tohoku earthquake, we are committed to improving earthquake safety in the Pacific Northwest through our strong university and state partnerships,” said David Applegate, USGS Associate Director exercising the delegated authority of the USGS Director. “With ShakeAlert, we are excited to provide the foundation that makes earthquake early warning possible for the West Coast.”
“The last 12 months have demonstrated the importance of being prepared,” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps. “It is up to each of us to take steps to reduce risk for ourselves and our communities. ShakeAlert provides a valuable tool to help give Oregonians the best chance to be disaster survivors – not disaster victims.”
The Governor’s 2025 resilience plan set goals for making the state more resilient, including implementing a statewide emergency warning system by 2023 that ties multi-hazard events—earthquakes, wildland fires, landslides, and floods—into one alerting and monitoring system. At the Governor’s request, the Oregon Legislature allocated funds to complete the build out of sensors and real-time data communications sufficient to allow alerting based on federal investments in ShakeAlert.
“A catastrophic earthquake in the Pacific Northwest is not hypothetical. It is not a question of if an earthquake will happen, but when,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio. “In an earthquake, every second counts. Thanks to the incredible work of the University of Oregon and other West Coast universities, we now have an early warning system that will give people extra seconds to save lives, avoid or reduce injury and mitigate infrastructure damage during a major earthquake.”
“The science is clear about the serious threat of an earthquake, and Oregonians must continue to prepare,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. “When the devastating earthquake hits, our state needs a response that equips all Oregonians with valuable seconds to protect themselves. I’m proud to have worked with colleagues to secure the funding for ShakeAlert, an essential early warning system that taps into the latest technology to protect Oregon families, homes, and businesses.”
“If there’s anything we’ve learned from this pandemic and last year’s catastrophic wildfires, it’s the importance of trusting science and preparing for emergencies before they strike,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley. “That’s why I’ve been using my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure robust funding for the ShakeAlert early warning system, which could help save lives in the event of a major earthquake. Whether it’s wildfires or ‘the big one,’ I will continue to fight for the resources Oregonians need to stay safe.”
Oregonians can receive ShakeAlert notifications by enabling emergency alerts on their cell phones and by signing up through mobile apps as they become available. Oregonians should look for apps that indicate “Powered by ShakeAlert.” More information about receiving ShakeAlert notifications is available here .
“Today represents a milestone in achieving our resilience goals,” Governor Brown added. “Recent wildfires and winter storm events underscore the need to continue building statewide resilience through monitoring and alerting systems that keep our public safe. And Oregonians also need to take steps to prepare. Have a plan for your family about how you will connect and take care of each other when disasters happen.”