By Max Dorfman, research writer, Triple-I
“Neither the United States Geological Survey (USGS) nor any other scientists have exactly predicted a major earthquake, ”according to a recent post in the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP). “And scientists do not expect to be able to predict earthquakes in the future. But USGS scientists can calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur in a specific area within a certain number of years. “
The CRMP is a joint authority formed by its members, the California Earthquake Authority and the California Governor̵7;s Office of Emergency Services.
Predicting earthquakes immediately before they occur is not possible – and the risk of a major earthquake is still great. With more than 15,000 known faults in California – more than 500 categorized as “active” – and most Californians living within 30 miles of an active fault, no one in Golden State is immune to earthquake risk.
With this in mind, the US government has worked for greater earthquake preparedness. The USGS recently released a report, UCERF3: A new earthquake forecast for California’s complex systemwhich projects a 93 percent probability of one or more earthquakes of magnitude 6.7 or greater hitting Southern California during the 30-year period that began in 2014. In addition, the USGS predicts that during the same period there is more than a 99 percent chance of at least one earthquake at magnitudes of 6.7 or greater occurring throughout California.
What can you do to prepare?
ShakeAlert is a tool that helps Californians give an initial warning of an impending tremor. This early warning system delivers information such as earthquakes moments after it has started, such as the expected intensity of earthquakes, and warns people who may be affected.
In addition, retrofitting older homes – especially those built before 1980, which precedes modern seismic building standards – can help create more earthquake-resistant and resilient homes. In fact, U.S. Census data found that more than 53 percent of San Diego County homes fall into that category.
As forest fires and other climate-related events continue to make headlines, it is important that homeowners and businesses in earthquake-prone areas do not neglect earthquake preparations. Most regular homeowners and tenant insurance policies do not cover most earthquake damage. But with the right tools and information, people can better prepare for tremors and protect themselves and their homes.