earthquakes | KUOW News and Information

earthquakes

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, center, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, right, get a tour of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network from Paul Bodin, left, and John Vidale, rear.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

The alert comes in on your cell phone: “Earthquake! Earthquake! Moderate shaking expected in 31 seconds.”

That could be just enough warning to let you take action that could save your life, say scientists building an earthquake emergency warning system on the West Coast.

Pacific Northwest businesses have noticed an uptick in earthquake preparation sales and inquiries since the New Yorker wrote about an expected 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

Bill Radke, Deb Wang, Chris Vance and Luke Burbank  at the Leif Erikson Lodge as part of the 'Week in Review' summer tour.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

KUOW's Week in Review was at Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard in front of a live audience as part of the show's summer tour. On the docket: what's the solution for affordable housing? Also, should we save a little viaduct to preserve that view? Is there a fairer way to enforce the outdoor pot smoking ban? And a week after the New Yorker earthquake piece, are you still shaking?

Bill Radke convenes a panel of Live Wire radio's Luke Burbank, KUOW's Deborah Wang, former state GOP head Chris Vance and special guests.

U.S. Geological Survey

Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker article about Northwest earthquakes sent shockwaves through the Seattle area last week.

It described the damage a 9.0 magnitude quake offshore in the Cascadia subduction zone and resulting tsunami would do across a broad swath of the West Coast. The piece in the New Yorker itself was titled "The Really Big One," but a scarier headline appeared on social media: “The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle.”

A seismogram of an earthquake off California.
U.S. Geological Survey

Ross Reynolds talks with Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director John Vidale about the challenges of creating an early warning system for earthquakes.

Crews have yet to finish stabilizing the soil behind the seawall. That work is going on in front of Colman Dock, nearby. But work has stopped in front of the shops and restaurants for tourist season.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

It's been two weeks since the shops and restaurants of the Elliott Bay Seawall reopened after a long winter of being closed for construction.

Since reopening July 1, tourists have enjoyed unseasonably gorgeous weather for riding the Seattle Great Wheel, gorging on oysters and trying on Seahawks T-shirts.

KUOW's Bill Radke discusses the week's news with Bill Finkbeiner, Erica C. Barnett and Knute Berger in front of a live audience at University Heights as part of the of the 'Week in Review' summer tour.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

After reading this week's New Yorker article about The Really Big One, what scares you most about Seattle? Should your city snoop into your trash bin? And why should Seattle accept so much growth? Also: Bertha has a new restart date.

Bill Radke ponders the week’s news with journalists Erica C. Barnett and Knute Berger and former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Bill Finkbeiner.

Maybe you learned about it in high school, heard it on OPB, saw it in newspapers or maybe you have a subscription to The New Yorker. Or maybe all this earthquake talk is new to you.

Seismologists predict that the Northwest has a 37 percent chance of experiencing a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake happening in the next 50 years. It will be so disruptive, it will change the Pacific Northwest forever.

Ross Reynolds speaks with Lynne Miller from the King County Office of Emergency Management about the essentials we tend to forget when putting together our emergency kits.

Ross Reynolds interviews Roger Faris on simple things you can do prepare your home for an earthquake. Faris helped launch the Seattle Project Impact Earthquake Home Retrofit Program and he’s worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in disaster areas from Alaska to Florida to figure out what can be done to reduce damage from disaster.

An earthquake in 1949 collapsed ancillary structure to commercial building in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/King County, WA (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Kim Malcolm talks to Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about what to expect and how to prepare for when a big earthquake shakes the Northwest.

David Hyde speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about seismic upgrading in British Columbia and how the province would fare if the region were hit by a big earthquake.

Engineer Calls Oregon Earthquake Investment 'A Start'

Jul 15, 2015

The Oregon Legislature made its largest-ever investment for earthquake improvements this past session, but experts say the state still has a long way to go.

This U.S. Geological survey map shows the hot zones for potential earthquakes in the U.S.
U.S. Geological Survey

KUOW's Deborah Wang produced this story as part of her 2010 series “On Shaky Ground.”

The rocks and mud of the Pacific Northwest tell the story of much larger earthquakes that have hit this region in the past – and that could hit us again in the future.

A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

Most of us in Seattle aren't ready for The Big One.

Eric Holdeman, former director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, said we shouldn’t expect outsiders to swoop in and save us when a long-anticipated massive earthquake hits (and it will hit, we just don’t know when).

The Washington National Guard -- joined by officers from Oregon and Idaho -- are preparing for a massive military relief effort.

Several days after a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, officials are using helicopters to ferry aid to remote areas — and thousands of people are leaving Kathmandu, where many had sought refuge. Rescue crews are still working to help survivors of the 7.8-magnitude quake.

Reporting from the district of Gorkha, the epicenter of Saturday's tremor, NPR's Julie McCarthy says, "When we arrived last night, you could feel the ground shaking constantly. It felt like Jello, and it lasted through the evening."

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey are trying to figure out whether smartphones might be used to give earthquake warnings.

People standing above the epicenter of a large earthquake will feel the ground shaking before those on the periphery of the quake. The same can be said of their smartphones.

Ben Brooks with the USGS says if a computer was checking for simultaneous movement of a large number of smartphones, it could give people on the periphery of a quake a 10 or 20 second warning.

That's enough time to stop a surgeon from making a cut, he said.

If you’ve spent any time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in recent days, you will likely have noticed special attention given to the massive earthquake in Nepal on Saturday that left more then 5,000 people dead.

That attention goes beyond the phenomenon of global communications. Facebook and Google are making it easier for survivors to be identified, while Apple and PayPal are streamlining the donation process.

Aftershocks following Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake in Nepal are jangling nerves and complicating rescue operations. So far, there have been more than a dozen quakes of magnitude 5 or higher, and another two dozen between magnitude 4.5 and 5.

Akshar Koirala, 7, of Renton, prays with the Nepali community in Bothell following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Bells rang out at a temple in Bothell on Sunday, where more than a hundred came to pray, light candles and share updates about the massive earthquake in Nepal.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Nepalese people live in the Seattle area, and many are turning to each other for support. Officials have confirmed that more than 5,000 people died in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

In this photo provided by Azim Afif a man approaches the scene after an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake swept across Everest Base Camp, Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
Azim Afif via AP

Authorities in Nepal say nearly 1,900 people are confirmed dead following a powerful earthquake near the capital Kathmandu, where homes and ancient temples collapsed amid the intense temblor and strong aftershocks.

Dozens of people in three neighboring countries were also killed. At least eight were reported dead on Mount Everest, and perhaps dozens more trapped by a quake-triggered avalanche that hit the world's tallest peak at the height of the climbing season.

Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET

The desperate search for survivors continues Sunday in Nepal. Strong aftershocks woke thousands of Nepalese who were forced to spend the cold night outdoors.

A magnitude-3.0 earthquake is small, but most people can feel it. Historically, Oklahoma got less than two of those a year, but in 2013 it became two a week.

It's only gotten more active since then — last year, the state had three times as many earthquakes as in the entire seismically active state of California.

Congressional Democrats from up and down the West Coast are asking the House Appropriations Committee to allocate more money for a new earthquake early warning system.

The warning system uses sensors to detect the initial, less destructive waves of an earthquake.

So it doesn't give much advance notice. Somewhere between a few seconds and a minute.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Early warnings for earthquakes already occur in Japan, and they’re being piloted in California. Now the University of Washington hopes to bring them to the Northwest.

Five years ago today, an earthquake devastated the lives of millions of Haitians. Hundreds of thousands died, and many more were displaced from their homes. Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd went to Brockton, Mass., to speak with a group of Haitians still struggling to adjust to life in America.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch makes a run against the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field in 2011.
Flickr Photo/JBLM PAO (CC0-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks to John Vidale who explains how local seismologists are harnessing the power of Seahawks fans to test new earthquake sensor technology. Vidale is a professor of earth and space science at University of Washington and the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, which allows you to track the shaking of CenturyLink Field during the Seahawks game.

The new federal budget sent to the president's desk over the weekend includes $5 million for earthquake early warning along the West Coast. With this funding, an alert system should begin to roll out regionally next year.

Any parent of a rambunctious youngster can tell you trouble might be afoot when things go quiet in the playroom. Two independent research initiatives indicate there is a comparable situation with the Cascadia earthquake fault zone.

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