Sensor modules (12) including accelerometers (20) are placed on a physical structure (10) and tri-axial accelerometer data is converted to mechanical power (P) data (41) which then processed to provide a forewarning (57) of a critical event concerning the physical structure (10). The forewarning is based on a number of occurrences of a composite measure of dissimilarity (C.sub.i) exceeding a forewarning threshold over a defined sampling time; and a forewarning signal (58) is provided to a human observer through a visual, audible or tangible signal. A forewarning of a structural failure can also be provided based on a number of occurrences of (C.sub.i) above a failure value threshold.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with assistance under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.