Feds award money to boost warnings for West Coast quakes

SEATTLE -- The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded $4.9 million to six universities and a nonprofit to help advance an early warning system for earthquakes along the West Coast.

The federal agency says the ShakeAlert system could give people seconds or up to a minute of warning before strong shaking begins.

The University of Washington, Central Washington University and University of Oregon are among those receiving grants.

Congress provided $10.2 million in money to the USGS earthquake hazards program earlier this year.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer pushed for funding, saying such the early warning system is critical for Washington state.

The grants will help scientists thoroughly test the system and improve its performance. New seismic stations also will be installed to boost speed and reliability of warnings.