How Can I Get Immediate Notification Via Text of an LA Earthquake?
March 28, 2010 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I live in northern Virginia, however all of my family lives in the Los Angeles area. At work, I have to keep my web browsing to a bare minimum and restricted to my lunch break. As such, I'm worried about the Big One hitting the LA area, and not knowing about it ASAP, especially if LA's phone lines and cell towers get knocked out. Is there any way I could arrange for a text message to be sent to my cellphone, for every earthquake that hits the LA Basin? I realize this may turn out to be excessive, but am willing to experiment.
posted by invisible ink to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If an earthquake of Big One proportions hits LA, you won't need to worry about not hearing due to having to keep your web browsing "to a minimum," you'll know about it almost immediately. For comparison's sake, you'd probably hear about it as fast as you would 9/11.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:58 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: USGS to the rescue.
posted by sageleaf at 2:58 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks sageleaf, that's exactly what I was looking for.
posted by invisible ink at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2010

Another option if that proves too frequent:

" - Sign up for breaking e-mail news alerts via or text alerts via -- SMS alerts coming soon."
posted by salvia at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2010

If you really want *every* earthquake (including the 1.0s), follow the quakebot on twitter: earthquakesLA. (And have them sent to your phone, obvs)
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:31 PM on March 28, 2010

It uses the usgs data, I should add.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:35 PM on March 28, 2010

Every earthquake? LA gets several per day, you know.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2010

It will be excessive. I signed up for USGS alerts to my cellphone here in Missouri and got so many I turned them off within a day. I can only imagine the volume of alerts you'll get there...
posted by limeonaire at 4:57 PM on March 28, 2010

Missouri is in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. It doesn't seem that surprising that the USGS alerts from that region would be frequent.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2010

I follow the quakebot on twitter and it's usually 1 or 2 a day, but sometimes it can be quite a bit more.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:44 PM on March 28, 2010

Alternately, you could task a more-internet-connected friend (I'm guessing most of your friends might qualify) with texting you if the Big One hit in LA. News travels pretty quick these days -- I'd guess within ten minutes of something happening, you'd get a text or call from a friend who knows you have family there, whether or not you specifically request it.
posted by incessant at 5:55 PM on March 28, 2010

Missouri is in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. It doesn't seem that surprising that the USGS alerts from that region would be frequent.

And Los Angeles is on the San Andreas Fault, not to mention about 30 lesser faults within 30 miles. Check it out, baby!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:03 PM on March 28, 2010

Most importantly, make sure that your family and friends in CA have your numbers. In other words, worry less about how quickly you are notified of the quake, and worry more about preparing ahead of time to survive and then communicate after a disaster.

Quite often in a disaster, the phone lines will be tied up locally, but will work for long distance. But try to limit calling and keep conversations brief. Best not to tie up the lines talking about how many glasses broke in the kitchen, as the lines will be needed for real life and death emergencies for the injured.

Also, in a catastrophic - magnitude earthquake, communications may be extremely slow to recover. You may not hear from everyone - or about everyone - for a while.

The best that you can do is make sure that your CA people have a plan for where to meet after a disaster, and how to contact each other, and how to get word out to you. And if you plan ahead you may be the critical link to collecting info on who is safe and where everyone is. You can collect the info and give it to people who call you from CA. Like I said they may be able to call you, but not across town. (This happened to me in 2007 in a bad costal gale in Oregon - I was able to call California to have them call back to my wife, who was just a couple of miles away from my location!)

Lots of great info available on this at the Red Cross website. Make a plan now. This will lessen your worrying, because once you make a plan and prepare, you'll know you've done the best you can do.
posted by scottr at 8:08 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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