Redmond company at forefront of predicting tsunamis

REDMOND, Wash. -- Washington is playing an important role in predicting tsunamis, and giving communities more time to escape when one is about to hit.

The GPS technology taking you turn by turn to your destination could be the best way to predict when an earthquake will send a tsunami to our shores.

This month, NASA announced the creation of a space-based earthquake detection system. Satellites will monitor global positioning system sensors on the ground for minute changes in their location.

The system will use 500 stations across Washington, Oregon and California for the initial test.

The test will be an important first step to protect the countries located on the "Ring of Fire" -- an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones where 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.

Japan's tsunami warning system only gave communities 20 minutes to escape. But technology from Redmond's ParoScientific company could have given them more.

"There was what looked like a precursor to that event two days earlier that perhaps could have given much more advance warning to the nation," said Jerry Paros.

Japan chose ParoScientific to provide sensors for its new enhanced warning system in hopes of catching the movement before a powerful quake. The system will include 150 sensors along thousands of miles of sea-floor cable, stretching along the area hit hardest by the 2011 tsunami.

More and more countries are looking for ways to be better prepared for the big one, not just because of what has happened but also the risk of what could be.

NASA will begin testing its GPS satellite monitoring system this year.