Commuting is the focus of today's Great California ShakeOut, which is being billed
as the "largest earthquake safety drill in
Across the state in schools, offices, hospitals and -- for
the first time -- Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, people will
be asked to drop, cover and hold on during the annual drill. Metro
trains will also slow down at 10:18 a.m. as if a real earthquake occurred.
More than 9.3 million Californians are expected to take part.
"This is the first time we're focusing on commuters for a
ShakeOut event," said John Bwarie, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey. "There’s
about 250,000 just in Southern California, based on numbers from 2008, that
commute across the San Andreas fault."
In Union Station, where more than 75,000 people pass through each day, a recording is to be played over loudspeakers, asking commuters and passersby to drop to the ground, take cover
underneath something sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops.
Metro trains across Los Angeles County will slow down to restricted
speeds -- slow enough to stop quickly and safely if there are obstructions on
the track -- until all train operators on the line report back that the line is clear.
Trains won't be stopped, and the entire
inspection should take about 15 minutes, said Marc Littman, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman.
"This is part of our emergency procedure, and the simulation
drill is good training for us," Littman said. "The whole process is during off-peak hours, so there will
be minimal impact on service."
The earthquake drills have grown steadily since they began
in Southern California in 2008. Thursday's drill is also to be undertaken in British
Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.