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The entire West Coast is now covered by an earthquake early warning system

As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. earthquake early warning system can issue earthquake alerts to cellphone users in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Launched in Los Angeles in late 2018, the ShakeAlert early warning system aims to let people know about incoming shaking, so they can have at least a few seconds to find a safe spot to ride out the earthquake. The alert system is successful because communications systems are now faster than the speed of shaking waves moving through the ground, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The earthquake sensor system is about 70 percent finished, and alerts will come out faster once more sensors are placed in rural areas. Developers are also tweaking the computer software system that analyzes incoming shaking, to make it faster with more accurate alerts. Catherine Garcia