ABSTRACT

We evaluate the timeliness and accuracy of ground‐motion‐based earthquake early warning (EEW) during the July 2019 M 6.4 and 7.1 Ridgecrest earthquakes. In 2018, we began retrospective and internal real‐time testing of the propagation of local undamped motion (PLUM) method for earthquake warning in California, Oregon, and Washington, with the potential that PLUM might one day be included in the ShakeAlert EEW system. A real‐time version of PLUM was running on one of the ShakeAlert EEW system’s development servers at the time of the 2019 Ridgecrest sequence, allowing us to evaluate the timeliness and accuracy of PLUM’s warnings for the M 6.4 and 7.1 mainshocks in real time with the actual data availability and latencies of the operational ShakeAlert EEW system. The latter is especially important because high‐data latencies during the M 7.1 earthquake degraded ShakeAlert’s performance. PLUM proved to be largely immune to these latencies. In this article, we present a retrospective analysis of PLUM performance and explore three potential regional alerting strategies ranging from spatially large regions (counties), to moderate‐size regions (National Weather Service public forecast zones), to high‐spatial specificity (50 km regular geographic grid). PLUM generated initial shaking forecasts for the two mainshocks 5 and 6 s after their respective origin times, and faster than the ShakeAlert system’s first alerts. PLUM was also able to accurately forecast shaking across southern California for all three alerting strategies studied. As would be expected, a cost‐benefit analysis of each approach illustrates trade‐offs between increasing warning time and minimizing the area receiving unneeded alerts. Choosing an optimal alerting strategy requires knowledge of users’ false alarm tolerance and minimum required warning time for taking protective action, as well as the time required to distribute alerts to users.

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