Everyone on the West Coast has by this time read this article. It is an excellent description of the potential hazard of a major quake in the Cascadia fault, and how we are pretty unprepared for it.
Not that we aren't more prepared than we were. After the Nisqually Quake of 2001, there was a lot of improvements in building design and even such laggards as I have made sure to tie down our china cabinets and water heaters. But for something this massive would overwhelm whatever attempts people would make to protect themselves from devastation. When it happens, it will be pretty bad.
We can do more. A couple years after the quake, I was working for a company in downtown Bellevue in one of the new skyscrapers. And I was very aware of the fact that several faults crossed right underneath Bellevue. I asked what the earthquake plan was, and was told that everyone should take a shard from the server and walk down the fire escapes. No rally points, nothing beyond just getting out of the building.
The article itself does move around geographically, though, and that seems to increase the apparent damage. While Seattle itself will likely be flattened by the quake itself, it is the seaside communities that will be primarily wiped out by the resulting tidal wave. The article allows the reader to conflate the two, such that Seattle would be destroyed both by quake and tsunami.
How much Seattle gets of such a tsunami would actually depend on where the quake epicenters. Far south along the plate we have the bulk of the Olympics between us and the worst of the waves. If it breaks are the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then we have a nice shotgun channel pointed right at Whidby Island.
The only ironic humor that I can take out of the article is the comment that "everything West of I-5 will be toast". Grubb Street if fives miles EAST of I-5, so I guess we'll be fine (oh, quit laughing. I'm clutching at all the straws I can). Yes, if the big one hits, much like the big one they have been awaiting in LA, it will be pretty harsh.
Of course, let us make lemonade out of these lemons. I recommend that all natives of Seattle spread this story. Send it to relatives and would-be job prospects. One of the great challenges to our neck of the woods is that we have become TOO Successful. Rent is skyrocketing. The roads are clogged. And every single-story building in Bellevue seems to be under siege by high-rise developers. And people STILL want to move here. We need to scare them off, and the idea that we will all die from a massive earthquake may just be the thing.
And if it doesn't scare them off, we'll tell them about the ACTIVE VOLCANO.
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