PACIFIC NORTHWEST STRATEGY FOR EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING (EEW) OUTREACH, EDUCATION, AND TRAINING released

Earthquake program coordinators from Oregon and Washington in coordination with CREW have finished work with hundreds of first responders and emergency management professionals in crafting a new strategy on how to effectively implement earthquake early warning systems when the strategy eventually goes public in the Pacific Northwest.
The 45-page strategy is being released today and gives a path forward for state and local governments in Oregon and Washington to contribute to the successful implementation of ShakeAlert preparedness activities. The key will be to make sure first responders have the same training and are given clearly defined roles and responsibilities. There also needs to be staff support to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The ShakeAlert system detects earthquakes and rapidly disseminates warnings to end users in potentially affected areas. ShakeAlert is currently operating as a prototype in California, Oregon and Washington. Partners, like the University of Oregon, University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey (UGSG), are exploring ways for the public to receive warnings in the future.
The vision calls for a fully-developed and tested ShakeAlert system that detects earthquakes and disseminates warnings to end users with public alerts that integrate with organizational systems and processes, such as utilities that automatically shut off or doors to fire stations that lift up on their own. The ultimate goal is for a broad understanding and acceptance of ShakeAlert capabilities and limitations – and the funding to make it all happen.
Washington and Oregon based the goals, objectives and activities in the strategy on input from more than 100 state, tribal, local emergency managers and more than 300 community members, including many who have had training as part of Community Emergency Response Teams. The federal government provided funding to develop the strategy.
“Oregon and Washington state, tribal, local, and business partners have spent months collaborating on this strategy,” said Maximilian Dixon, earthquake program manager for the Washington’s Emergency Management Division and CREW Vice President. “It is our roadmap to reach stakeholders and to educate the public on actions to take when they get a ShakeAlert.”
Key strategy recommendations include having dedicated staff to coordinate training sessions with public safety and emergency management officials on earthquake early warning and partnering with existing preparedness efforts, such as The Great Washington ShakeOut, which is the third Thursday in October.
The strategy also calls for the development of specific earthquake early warning preparedness education and training materials to ensure the public understands the importance of drop, cover & hold on as a protective action when an earthquake occurs.
As part of its recent budget bill, Congress allocated $22.9 million in funding last week for the continued development of the ShakeAlert system. However, none of that funding is currently designated for state- or local-level education, training and outreach on ShakeAlert or Earthquake Early Warning preparedness.

Tsunami Awareness & Preparedness in Cascadia Region

CREW is committed to raising awareness of the tsunami risk in the Cascadia region while promoting mitigation and preparedness. Many lessons have been learned from the March 11, 2011 Great East Japanese (Tohoku) earthquake and tsunami – these also apply to the seismically-similar Cascadia Subduction Zone.

The following links provide additional information on ongoing awareness and preparedness activities in the Cascadia region:

Washington State

  • In a Seattle Times, CREW Vice-President John Schelling and CREW Treasurer Tim Walsh express the importance of ongoing awareness activities along with the scientific information needed to better quantify Cascadia’s risk.
  • Washington Emergency Management Division has more information on how to prepare to hazards in Washington state.
  • Project Safe Haven, completed in 2011, developed vertical evacuation options for the counties of Pacific and Grays Harbor.

Oregon

British Columbia

For more information on earthquakes, tsunamis, and how to prepare, please visit our pages on Earthquake Information, Risk Reduction, and read more in our Products and Programs.

If you have any questions, please Contact Us.

March 27th Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Great M9.2 Alaska Earthquake

50th Anniversary of the Great M9.2 Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964

March 27, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the great Alaska earthquake.   On March 27, 1964 at 5:36 pm local time a magnitude 9.2 earthquake began, ultimately breaking a fault about 400 miles long and a few 100 miles wide, rupturing from beyond the western edge of Kodiak Island to the eastern side of Prince William Sound and from well offshore inland to Upper Cook Inlet. The earthquake lasted approximately 4.5 minutes and is the largest earthquake in U.S. history and the second largest globally, next to the great 1960 M9.5 Chile earthquake.  The earthquake was felt in Dutch Harbor, 800 miles west of Anchorage, and in Seattle 1200 miles to the southeast of Anchorage.  Water well levels rose and fell in 47 states of the U.S.

Picture2Middleton Island, Alaska.  This rock platform was uplifted about 11 feet in tens of seconds by the 1964 Alaska earthquake. White specks are seagulls. Photo was taken near 7-foot tide stage on April 4, 1964. Figure 36, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 543-I; Figure 4-A, Circular 491.

As more recent great subduction zone earthquakes have demonstrated, the vast majority of the fatalities were caused by locally generated tsunamis; only 9 of the 129 fatalities attributed to the 1964 Alaska earthquake were caused directly by strong ground shaking. Property losses totaled $2.3 Billion in 2014 dollars.  Key practical scientific lessons were learned from the 1964 Alaska earthquake: 1) widespread liquefaction brought about the development of modern methods for assessing liquefaction hazard, 2) the potential for activation of large-scale secondary faulting became clear, and 3) the first direct evidence for how far-traveled tsunamis are generated led to a basic understanding of tectonic tsunami generation and inundation mapping around the globe.

Picture1The rails near the head of Turnagain Arm outside Anchorage were torn from their ties and buckled during the 1964 earthquake. Figure 24, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.

In the 50 years since 1964 economies and social structures from widespread States and countries have become much more intertwined, so a repeat of the great 1964 Alaska earthquake will likely have greater impacts on the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.  The greatest far-flung impacts from the 1964 earthquake along  west coast of North America were due to its tsunami waves. In British Columbia communities along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island were hit hardest, with 21-foot waves damaging and flooding the cities of Alberni and Port Alberni.  Along the Washington coast, 5- to 6-foot tsunami waves struck Ocean City and collapsed the bridge over Copalis River.  Wave heights at Moclips, Sea View, La Push and Wreck Creek reached an estimated 11, 12, 5, 7, and 15 feet, respectively. In Oregon the tsunami took four lives. Seaside, struck by a 10-foot wave, was the hardest hit. Tsunami wave heights reached 10 to 11.5 feet at Depoe Bay, Newport, Florence, Reedsport, Brookings, and 14 feet at Coos Bay. Four people died at Beverly Beach State Park.  California lost 12 people to the tsunami. 10 of these fatalities occurred in inundation-prone Crescent City, which was struck by an unusually large 21-foot wave owing to the shape of the ocean bottom just offshore. Cities all the way to San Diego experienced significant tsunami waves, with one fatality in Los Angeles occurring when the 6-foot tsunami surge struck the Cerritos Channel.

Many institutions are commemorating the 1964 Alaska earthquake by taking stock of preparations and practicing future earthquakes.  The State of Alaska is conducting the Alaska Shield Exercise, which simulates the ground shaking and tsunami effects that occurred during the 1964 earthquake and exercises today’s response plans capabilities.  The Alaska Shield scenario is the centerpiece of the FEMA National Exercise Program Capstone Exercise for 2014, which has participants from across the U.S.

 

For lots more information check out http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/events/alaska1964/. Additional information includes 1964 Alaska Earthquake Fact Sheet and a Online Resources Handout

February 28 Marks the Anniversary of the M6.8 Nisqually Earthquake

February 28th marks the anniversary of the Nisqually Earthquake. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.8, a depth of 52 km, with a hypocenter about 17.8 km NE of Olympia, Washington.  A clearinghouse with information about this earthquake can be found here.

Washington tsunami refuges in National Geographic magazine

The February 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine includes a story about plans to build a tsunami refuge at Ocosta Elementary School in Westport, Washington. The story includes quotes from CREW member John Schelling (State of Washington) and mapped evacuation-modeling results from CREW member Nathan Wood (USGS).

314 Year Anniversary of the Great 1700 Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake

January 26, 2014 marked the 314-Year Anniversary of the last Cascadia Earthquake

SEATTLE— The last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake occurred one hundred years before Lewis and Clark saw the Pacific Ocean. It was a time when native traditions spoke of the ground shaking and the waters rising. There were no bridges to fall and no schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure in tsunami inundation zones. It was a time when Cascadia was much more resilient than today. “The very advances that are the foundations of our modern communities create vulnerability along with convenience” said Michael Kubler, Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) President. “The revised Cascadia scenario is a crucial tool for regional leaders to use in developing policies and plans for the next earthquake.”

Events over the last few years have expanded our understanding of earthquake science and the hazards faced by our region from a future Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. The Cascadia Subduction Zone extends along the coastlines of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia. There’s no doubt that Cascadia is capable of producing earthquakes and tsunamis on the same scale as the magnitude 8.8 earthquake off Chile in 2010 and the magnitude 9.0 quake that devastated the east coast of Japan in 2011.

Cascadia’s last great earthquake occurred on January 26, 1700—stresses have been building on the fault ever since. While the full extent of the earthquake hazard was not realized until the 1980s, the Cascadia subduction zone is now one of the most closely studied and monitored regions in the world. “In 2005 CREW first published the Cascadia earthquake scenario, but so much new information has emerged that an update was needed” said Heidi Kandathil, CREW Executive Director. The newly updated Cascadia Scenario joins the list of other free products developed by CREW to help the region’s residents, schools, businesses, planners, and emergency managers prepare for future earthquakes. The Scenario and other materials are available online at http://tinyurl.com/m34v2ex.

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For more about CREW and the new Cascadia Subduction Zone Scenario, seeCascadia Factsheet.

Evacuation potential in SW Washington communities from Cascadia tsunami hazards

A new article in the journal Natural Hazards documents variations in population exposure in coastal communities of Pacific and Grays Harbor counties to Cascadia-related tsunami hazards as a function of modeled pedestrian travel time to safety. Results suggest that successful evacuations may be possible in some communities assuming slow walking speeds, are plausible in others if travel speeds are increased, and are unlikely in another set of communities given the large distances and short time horizon. Communities can use these results to help prioritize tsunami risk-reduction efforts, such as education and training in areas where evacuations are plausible and vertical-evacuation strategies in areas where they currently are not.

More information can be found at http://www.springerlink.com/content/a6177520x5k6080t/ or by emailing the lead author at nwood@usgs.gov.