Earthquake Reporting System Had Glitch

RENO, NV - Did you feel it when the ground shook Monday night? Thousands throughout Carson City and south Reno noticed the rumble, but it took nearly an hour to confirm the quake.

The delay was caused by a computer glitch at the Nevada Seismological Lab.

Normally when the ground shakes, there is an instant online notification that says where it happened and how big it was.

"When the local news came on that evening, I was expecting to see it and it wasn't being reported," said Tim Rowe, a Carson resident.

Rowe felt the quake, but didn't know it was centered right behind the airport that he manages.

"Well it was news to me until this morning," said Rowe.

The information was delayed by about an hour, because of a glitch in the earthquake detecting system.

"All the data was there, it was on a backup system," said Ken Smith with the Nevada Seismological Lab.

Seismic network manager Ken Smith says the problem came in processing that data. The computer that handles 10,000 data samples a second just didn't work.

"The data comes in within a couple of seconds and software systems here are actually looking at all the traces and trying to determine whether there is an earthquake happening," said Smith.

The problem has been fixed, and moving forward this lab is hoping to use even better notifications. They hope to warn people about a quake before it happens.

"They could play a big role to serve businesses as well as community if they are implemented correctly," said Smith.

A warning of just 10 to 30 seconds could save lives.

The Technology of detecting earthquakes in advance is already in use in Mexico and Japan, but it is still a few years off here in Nevada.


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