Join 3,417 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Megaquake hits the Pacific NorthWest
August 26, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

This is how it will happen. Let’s pick a day: June 22, 2012. It’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, 75 degrees and sunny. It’s been raining for weeks, and in Seattle the freeways are jammed with people fleeing the city to ­enjoy the rare sunshine. Same story in Portland. Out on the coast, the beach towns are thrumming with tourists. How a monster earthquake and resulting tsunami would affect the coast and cities of the Pacific NW.
posted by jontyjago (152 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I can't believe how threatened you guys feel by someplace other than the west coast having an earthquake.
posted by crunchland at 9:34 AM on August 26, 2011 [42 favorites]


Totally Psyched for the Full-Rip Nine

I'm just glad they're taking this seriously.
posted by chavenet at 9:36 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]



I'm just glad they're taking this seriously.


It only gets worse from there. If I was feeling generous, I'd say that they're trying to sound snappy and accessible.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2011


Totally unrealistic. 75 degrees and sunny in June? Riiiiight!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2011 [45 favorites]


Needs more cowbell.
posted by warbaby at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2011


I'm moving to Seattle in literally a few hours for the first time in my life, so this was impeccable timing. Glad I live on the first floor?
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


crunchland: The Pacific Northwest is the west coast. I don't see your point.
posted by pts at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Wow, I can't believe how threatened you guys feel by someplace other than the west coast having an earthquake.

It's more "If everyone and their uncle is getting a quake, what about the super mega one that the Cascade region is overdue for."
posted by mrzarquon at 9:46 AM on August 26, 2011


When I saw that title, I thought a megaquake had the Pacific NorthWest.
posted by jessssse at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


D'oh! Had hit...
posted by jessssse at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2011


Wow, yeah.

Um, thanks for that...

Have a great weekend Seattle-ites!
posted by Windopaene at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2011


I'm sitting at my desk on the top floor of an old brick building near the Willamette River waterfront in Portland thinking "Oh lord, please not in my lifetime."
posted by Specklet at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2011


If you're going to pick a mythical disaster of epic proportions just in order to freak the heck out of people, a Seattle tsunami is small-time. Try the Yellowstone super volcano instead.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


"Don’t ask Jesus to save you. Be your own Jesus.”

Advice for life.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [42 favorites]


Given the lengthy lead time in magazine articles, I'm fairly sure this article has nothing to do with this week's earthquake -- except for incredibly great timing. Despite the mention of the prophecies of Cassandra, I doubt Outside Magazine knew how lucky they were.

I also was mused by this comment from after the article:
    But what are the odds of the big one hitting on that one day in ten years when the weather is nice enough to get out on the beach like the people in the picture are doing?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:53 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm already at ease with the Yellowstone Super-Volcano.
posted by Windopaene at 9:53 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you're going to pick a mythical disaster of epic proportions

I don't think the megaquake is all that mythical. We're due for one here in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region *at* *any* *moment*. I'm serious.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 AM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


LOL from the tsunami zone of the Oregon coast. Picked a heck of a week to leave NYC!
posted by spitbull at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2011


Post earthquake/natural disaster reporting like this has been happening for as long as I can remember. Whenever an earthquake or natural disaster makes national news, the local news (magazines, whatever) produces an "are we next?" piece, and they don't seem to get any more insightful than the previous one.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2011


This is the way the world ends: This is the way the world ends: This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang, but a pic-a-nic basket.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


> Try the Yellowstone super volcano instead.

The researcher trying to find the caldera (the thing every volcano has that makes it a volcano) in Yellowstone couldn't find it for years. He kept searching and searching for it. It wasn't until US / NASA decided to send the park a nice high altitude photo they took of the place to test some spy photography that he found it. The entire park was the caldera.

Also: There are more hot springs and geysers in Yellowstone than anywhere else, combined.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


> But what are the odds of the big one hitting on that one day in ten years when the weather is nice enough to get out on the beach like the people in the picture are doing?

The thing I like about that illustration is that everyone appears to be doing their best to ignore the giant wave about to obliterate them. It's a nice day and they're going to fucking enjoy it, okay?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Run for your lives! It's a 30-foot wall of yellow journalism!
posted by gurple at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


"Don’t ask Jesus to save you. Be your own Jesus.”

Advice for life.


Your own personal Jesus, so to speak. Someone to hear your prayers; someone who's there.
posted by curious nu at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2011 [35 favorites]


“People are like”—he sticks his fingers in his ears—“Na-na-na-na-na-na-na! Can’t hear you!” He shrugs. “It’s human nature. People don’t like to get bad news.”

Oh, nonsense. What is it they're supposed to do, pack up and move? Be on the lookout at all times for all those tell-tale signs that an earthquake is coming? Tear down all buildings built before 1997 and replace them with earthquake-proof ones (assuming there is such a thing)?

People typically have earthquake kits in these parts, that's really about all you can do. When an earthquake on that scale hits, all bets are off and you're going to need plain old luck just as much as you'll need an earthquake kit with canned goods and bottled water and a flashlight.

I'm not sure what this guy is expecting. After my first earthquake in Japan (a small one that slowly swelled in intensity for about a minute and ended up somewhere in the mid-4s), I was pretty scared. At the local izakaya I was talking to the barman about it afterwards, they all found my concern pretty funny. What he and the locals told me at that point was that when the big one hits, Mt Fuji might go off and this town will be gone either in water, earth, fire, or all 3. They shrugged it off as something that will probably happen one day, but there's nothing you can really do about it so have a beer. Really, what are you gonna do?
posted by Hoopo at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have a water heater. Holds a lot of water, that water heater.
posted by gurple at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2011


This reminds me that I will need to visit Yellowstone again before it explodes.
posted by jnnla at 10:06 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phew! Glad I live in someplace safe like Southern California, especially in a place where I can look across a valley at the San Andreas fault going along the mountains.

Yep! Real safe!
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:06 AM on August 26, 2011


Liquefied soil pushes against the city’s retaining seawall, which has been weakened by gribbles

I am laughing at this sentence so helplessly that I might actually weep a little.
posted by elizardbits at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Really, what are you gonna do?

Sublimate it into a buttload of Godzilla movies.
posted by darksasami at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a diagram explaining the interaction of the Pacific, Juan de Fuca, and North American plates, along with some (general) locations of semi-active volcanoes in the region.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read CSZ in the article and think ComedySportz.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Trouble With Gribbles was totally my favorite Sea Trek episode.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: (1) GRAB BEER. (2) RUN LIKE HELL.”
posted by localroger at 10:09 AM on August 26, 2011


Really, what are you gonna do?

Knowing what to do is probably the most important factor in preparedness.

Can you get out of your building in the minute or two you have? Are you going to spend one of those two mintues arguing with your H&S person? Where are you going to evacuate to? Do you know your tsunami evacuation routes and where a safe stopping point is?

Have you practiced any of this?

HAving a go-bag is nice, but not super important in the grand scheme of things. A small bottle of water and some asprin aren't useless, but they probably aren't going to save your life either. Knowing what to do and where to go might.
posted by bonehead at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter's own Rumple has blogged about archaeological evidence of tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest. It's well worth a read (as is the rest of his blog).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:12 AM on August 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


So in case of a long quake, do i run outside? Yeah the article says I'll get squashed by gargoyles, but our building doesn't have gargoyles on it.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:14 AM on August 26, 2011


I Port Alberni, which was hit hard by the Alaska quake's tsunami (images), half the town will take their beers and lawn chairs down to the river to watch the action.

How do I know? Because that's what they do every time there's a warning.
posted by klanawa at 10:15 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


For you GVRD (and perhaps even Victoria) folks, the Georgia Striaght is also large enough for a seiche, by the way. The west coast of Island will probably take the brunt of a tsunami, but that still doesn't mean that parts of downtown Vancouver or Richmond will be all that safe.
posted by bonehead at 10:16 AM on August 26, 2011


Given the lengthy lead time in magazine articles, I'm fairly sure this article has nothing to do with this week's earthquake [...]

Well, they have been predicting this quake for decades so cobbling together yet another article about it can't take that long. As far as preparedness, even elementary school students on Vancouver Island know the whole island could sink into the sea at any moment.
posted by Lorin at 10:16 AM on August 26, 2011


So in case of a long quake, do i run outside?

Earthquake drills in elementary school told us we should duck under a sturdy table and hang on to the leg, or brace ourselves in the doorway. We were told not to go outside, but that would probably depend on your particular building.
posted by Vibrissa at 10:17 AM on August 26, 2011


Can you get out of your building in the minute or two you have?

I live on the 18th floor, so.....no. Not to mention the amount of glass on the highrises in this area would make the idea of being out on a downtown street kinda dangerous.

I have no car, and if I did it would be parked in an underground garage and most of the routes out of the City involve bridges.

I'm talking about downtown Vancouver. Richmond is mostly in a floodplain, I'm told. For a lot of us it's going to be cross-your-fingers time in any event.
posted by Hoopo at 10:19 AM on August 26, 2011


Needs more Yellowstone Caldera.
posted by sararah at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


For you GVRD (and perhaps even Victoria) folks, the Georgia Striaght is also large enough for a seiche, by the way.

The general assumption around here (in Victoria) is that Carmanah Point is about as far south as a tsunami would come, so settlements along Juan de Fuca Strait, including Victoria, and the Georgia Basin (including Richmond) would generally not suffer from a tsunami.

On the other hand, Victoria and Richmond would have to worry a great deal about soil liquification. I've asked the Victoria City disaster planner about this over email, and basically 75% of the Capital Regional District could suffer from liquification, especially the downtown region (where I live).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2011


i did a quick google & i'll be damned if i can find it, but Rolling Stone magazine did an article back in the late 70s/early 80s about what would happen if an earthquake really hit the San Andreas fault. it was quite terrifying as i recall.
posted by msconduct at 10:24 AM on August 26, 2011


The Newport, Oregon, Walmart becomes one of the coast’s critical staging points for both food and material. As they did ­during Hurricane Katrina, Walmart executives in Benton­ville, Arkansas, get word to their store managers: Do whatever it takes to help your communities. Autonomy is yours. The company’s distribution network begins moving food, medicine, and building supplies ....

I had never heard this bit about Wally World, their response in Katrina; it's probably the best thing I've ever heard about their organization.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:26 AM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, Victoria and Richmond would have to worry a great deal about soil liquification.

There's a very detailed map in the Wright building at UVic showing the danger zones (including those where liquefaction would be a problem) in Victoria. I haven't seen another one like it, but it would be nice to be able to pass them around. Thankfully, I'm in one of the safest places... unless the giant sequoia falls on me.
posted by klanawa at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2011


pts: “crunchland: The Pacific Northwest is the west coast. I don't see your point.”

It was a joke about the east coast earthquake this week.
posted by koeselitz at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The researcher trying to find the caldera (the thing every volcano has that makes it a volcano) in Yellowstone couldn't find it for years. He kept searching and searching for it. It wasn't until US / NASA decided to send the park a nice high altitude photo they took of the place to test some spy photography that he found it. The entire park was the caldera.

This is a great story, but I had to wonder if it's true. The USGS doesn't think so: posted by rh at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Or, you know, I could just use google: hazard maps.
posted by klanawa at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would also toss out a bit of trivia from my first year here. That rainy season was particularly wet, and it caused some turbidity problems with our drinking water. We were advised not to drink it for a while until the situation righted itself.

This of course led to hoarding of all available bottled water, and there were reports of fistfights breaking out in the Costco. I do not anticipate things will be better in the aftermath of a major earthquake.
posted by Hoopo at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2011


So in case of a long quake, do i run outside? Yeah the article says I'll get squashed by gargoyles, but our building doesn't have gargoyles on it.

I went to a school with a high, steep, slate roof. They told us, "don't go outside in an earthquake or you'll be cut to pieces by the shingles."

Maybe not in those exact words, but the message was clear.
posted by klanawa at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2011


Lord_Pall: “So in case of a long quake, do i run outside? Yeah the article says I'll get squashed by gargoyles, but our building doesn't have gargoyles on it.”

I don't think you understand. The trouble is that earthquakes anger the gargoyles, so they just go around squashing people all over the place.

They've been particularly peevish since their TV show got cancelled.
posted by koeselitz at 10:39 AM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


If the earth starts rumbling here, I will immediately run outside and start heading up the hill. I think I only have about 7 minutes before the waters from Salmon Creek dam barrel through. Note to self: perhaps a spare pair of sensible shoes is in order.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:42 AM on August 26, 2011


I just bought a new house and was purchasing home insurance last week. The broker asked if I wanted earthquake insurance and then we just both laughed.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2011


I secretly hope for Dickwolf attacks at Disneyland.
posted by dr_dank at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes but how does this effect New York City?
posted by Legomancer at 10:46 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thankfully, I'm in one of the safest places... unless the giant sequoia falls on me.

It would be nice to think that Fernwood became the new heart of a rebuilt Victoria. /YYJ
posted by KokuRyu at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


No smoked salmon for your bagels.
posted by bonehead at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2011


An big problem after a mega quake in the pacific northwest is going to be all those evergreens falling over like dominoes. I don't think people will be driving anywhere the roads will be impassible except on foot. Hopefully one of the trees hasn't fallen on top of you.
posted by humanfont at 10:50 AM on August 26, 2011


What is it they're supposed to do, pack up and move? Be on the lookout at all times for all those tell-tale signs that an earthquake is coming?

Having grown up in Seattle, I remember every few years we'd get enough rain to cause flooding by the rivers and mudslides, and inevitably several houses would collapse or get flooded.

Next year: they build houses next to the river, on a hill, again.

In this case, there's a lot of infrastructure that makes fixing it all not feasible, but I think it's spot on about general stupidity.
posted by yeloson at 10:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Be your own Jesus? Really? That's the answer to a tsunami? Walking on water?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


AHHH yeloson, I'm studying emergency and disaster management and stories like that make me PULL MY HAIR OUT. I never thought they were true until I got into this field and started reading reports and academic articles. Nonsense like that is why I'm much more pro-zoning laws and code requirements than I was in the past.
posted by brilliantine at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The broker asked if I wanted earthquake insurance and then we just both laughed.

My renter's insurance cost me a whole $10/year more for earthquake insurance. Assuming I survive the Cascadia quake, I'm up $45K.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2011


but I think it's spot on about general stupidity.

North Vancouver has been guilty of this in the past. development creeps farther and farther up the mountain all the time, sometimes on soil that can't support it.

I don't think people will be driving anywhere the roads will be impassible except on foot.

That is a very good point; landslides, windstorms, and wet earth frequently lead to trees and rocks blocking highways already.
posted by Hoopo at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2011


We're all gonna die sometime of something
So why freak?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:06 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Going over data from the ­Nat­ional Geodetic Survey, America’s surveying corps, Adams found that highways along the Washington and Oregon coast were gaining about one to two millimeters of ­elevation per year.

Repaving?
posted by oulipian at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2011


I imagine much of the 99 will simply disappear. Most of the bridges will probably go, Lions Gate for certain. The tunnel will probably be flooded/cavedin. Being as dependent on bridges as it is, getting around Vancouver, always a challenge at the best of times, will be very difficult after a major quake.
posted by bonehead at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2011


We're all gonna die sometime of something
So why freak?


Most of us aren't all that worried about the dying part. It's the how to avoid dying unecessarily part that people tend to get het up about. For me, it's all about taking care of the survivors. Having an understanding and acceptance of the dangers, and being prepared for the basics of survival makes it much, much easier to not freak when the situation calls for clear heads.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


What if it's partly cloudy? How many people will die then?
posted by briank at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


58
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just bought a new house and was purchasing home insurance last week. The broker asked if I wanted earthquake insurance and then we just both laughed.

Was it a slow, rumbling laugh?
posted by mannequito at 11:17 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wasn't there a Douglas Coupland story/magazine piece about a mega-quake in the Pacific Northwest leading to the creation of Cascadia afterwards? I did a quick google search so I might be imagining it.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:19 AM on August 26, 2011


42 damnit!

The answer is always 42.

But seriously, if anyone who lives on the West coast doesn't have their earthquake plan prepared, you are just in serious denial.

Husband and I have two "go bags" and a sealed box. We have water, food, matches, propane tanks, etc. and a plan for living for about 2-3 weeks with little to no assistance. If the big one hits L.A., I don't want to be sucking up anyone else's resources. Especially since I have the resources now to prepare myself.

Emergency management is going to have far larger problems and I don't plan on being a drain on their resources if I can help it.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in Seattle--not a native, but my husband it, and I've been here five years--and while I'm scared of the earthquake itself, what really terrifies me is the aftermath: the city being destroyed, buildings being gone, things being shut down. As shallow as it sounds, I'm in graduate school right now. What would happen if there were a megaquake? Would the university just close? Would I ever get my degree? What about my job, or my husband's job--would we become unemployed?

We have food and water, and can live for 2 weeks easily on our kit, but what about six months later?
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:21 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


chavenet : I'm just glad they're taking this seriously.

Meh. Waiting for the next Atlantic tsunami, myself.


jabberjaw : If you're going to pick a mythical disaster of epic proportions just in order to freak the heck out of people, a Seattle tsunami is small-time. Try the Yellowstone super volcano instead.

Except, every 300 years doesn't quite rate as merely "mythical" - More like "flip a coin every day for a week-and-a-half. All heads? Congrats, you just died!".


Mister Fabulous : My renter's insurance cost me a whole $10/year more for earthquake insurance. Assuming I survive the Cascadia quake, I'm up $45K.

...Until you learn that most of the damage from an earthquake actually results from flooding, which your policy doesn't cover. ;)
posted by pla at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2011


Ideal Impulse : We have food and water, and can live for 2 weeks easily on our kit, but what about six months later?

If it causes enough damage that you don't have basic infrastructure back by then, and you chose to stick around anyway... Darwin would like a word with you.


/ Lookin' at you, NOLA
posted by pla at 11:25 AM on August 26, 2011


If it causes enough damage that you don't have basic infrastructure back by then, and you chose to stick around anyway... Darwin would like a word with you.

Darwin is unlikely to get through unless somebody has the tenacity to stick around and rebuild the infrastructure.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2011


Hoopo:

"North Vancouver has been guilty of this in the past. development creeps farther and farther up the mountain all the time"

I think "in the past" might be right there. I don't believe development has moved any further up the mountain in the DNV in the 10 years I've been in Vancouver, and since the Blueridge slide they've done detailed surveys of the danger zones and also made zoning in those areas much stricter. There's actually a lot of good resources on the DNV's site if you look (they also have an awesome GIS site these days.) Some of those places built along the west side of Capilano Road are scary.

West Van, on the other hand, just keeps building up that hill and has no plans to stop. That said, most of West Van is built on bedrock (unlike North Van, which is mostly built on glacial debris.)
posted by pascal at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2011


My husband, by the way, is a third generation Seattleite (a rarity), and an urban planner. This is something we've discussed--would we leave Seattle if this megaquake happened--and I don't think he wants to say, "Yes." He loves this city. Besides, I'm not sure where we would go.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:34 AM on August 26, 2011


We have food and water, and can live for 2 weeks easily on our kit, but what about six months later?

Do you have family and friends elsewhere? If we can't figure out how to rebuild and water/electricity isn't coming our way within 3 weeks, our plan is to get on our motorbike and ride.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2011


Husband and I have two "go bags" and a sealed box. We have water, food, matches, propane tanks, etc. and a plan for living for about 2-3 weeks with little to no assistance

There's a practicality issue at a certain point for some of us. We have no vehicle; I don't think I'll be able to lug 2-3 weeks worth of water and food with me very far. It's already difficult to comply with the recommendations of preparing for 72 hours, which includes around 4L of water, per person, per day. That has us carrying something like 53 lbs of water, before food and other essentials are even factored in.
posted by Hoopo at 11:45 AM on August 26, 2011


People in Seattle and Portland...wonder if it will hit the cities.
It probably won’t. To reach Portland, the tsunami would have to muscle its way up 75 miles of the Columbia River and hang a hard right at the Willamette River. Seattle is similarly protected by the topography of Puget Sound.


Unless an earthquake strikes the Seattle Fault, which runs right through the city. This would cause 20-foot waves in Elliott Bay, flooding the central waterfront and the filled-in tidelands at the mouth of the Duwamish in two minutes. Here's a video showing NOAA's model of a 7.3 quake along this faultline.
posted by bokinney at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2011


MetaFilter: Squashed By Gargoyles

with special guest Guided By Voices

Featuring Participled by Nouns

posted by Mister_A at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hoopo - the box and the heavy stuff is for sheltering in place. If you have to get out, go bags with just the 72 hours are all we have as well. I expect the L.A. Freeways will be way too crowded to get anything but a motorcycle through. We'll just have our go bags with us if we absolutely must leave. But the first option is always sheltering in place.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2011


Oddly... this made me hungry...

The CSZ always ruptures in one of two ways: as a kielbasa (along its entire length) or as one of numerous breakfast-link sausages (a single 200-mile segment). A breakfast link would set off an 8.0, limiting damage to a portion of the coast. The whole kielbasa would be a 9.0-plus that rocks the entire Northwest coast.

New USGS motto: Redefining that gassy feeling sausage sometimes gives people.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. I'm in Port Alberni mentioned above. Yeah, a few people go down and watch for tsunamis but the majority do take it seriously here. We have a tsunami warning system and just last month fire fighters knocked on my door and handed out a package from the city on how to make a go bag and asked questions about my evacuation route (I live in the tsunami zone) and if I could hear the siren testing and what it would actually sound like in an emergency.

People here remember the tsunami in the 60's and take it seriously.
posted by kanata at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2011


I think "in the past" might be right there.

You're right pascal, North Van is actually very well administered these days, but it all looks the same to me from across the water.
posted by Hoopo at 11:56 AM on August 26, 2011


Hoopo - If water concerns you, you might want to consider purchasing a water filter of some sort. There are a number of options available, from basic and cheap, to expensive and comprehensive, that should see you safely through any likely disaster in the PNW. Google for water filters in camping supply stores, etc. I have several, mostly for road trips, etc. But I also have one of these Berkey filters for the home, just in case something happens and we lose water (small disruptions in basic services are far more common than big disasters, so it has already paid off to be prepared to go without). A Steripen might be all you'd probably need for post-disaster travel in these water-rich parts.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:56 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I have to say that as far as hypothetical natural disasters go, my favorite is the Yellowstone Super Volcano since I live pretty close to it and thus would die soon after it happened, as opposed to the rest of you who would survive only to succumb to famine, disease, and war over the next few years.

Hooray for me!
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2011


"Don’t ask Jesus to save you. Be your own Jesus.”

Can I still ask for help in moving the rock?
posted by davejay at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2011


Okay, "mythical" is a facetious word when I describe this event.

I live in Southern California, and have lived here for a majority of my natural born life. I have experienced earthquakes large and small on a regular basis. I know, deep down inside, that the "Big One" will happen someday, and perhaps even in my lifetime, so I agree that these kinds of disasters are a not fictitious.

But I stand by my statement that these are mythical, because there is such a body of portentous lore that has built up around these events that it becomes more mythology than fact. Ultimately, what I don't appreciate is the tone of fear-mongering that these kinds of stories inspire.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So wait. This scenario supposes people will be leaving the rainy valley for the SUNNY coast?

YOU'RE NOT FROM HERE ARE YOU
posted by peep at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Listen, and understand. That tsunami is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
posted by Chuffy at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Until you learn that most of the damage from an earthquake actually results from flooding, which your policy doesn't cover. ;)

Double ha! I live at a high point 4 miles away from and 250 feet above the Columbia. VICTORY IS MINE assuming I can get home.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2011


Alas, Babylon.
posted by crunchland at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2011


Needs more Yellowstone Caldera...

FIG. 4.—IDEAL SECTION THROUGH 2,000 FEET OF BEDS OF SPECIMEN RIDGE, SHOWING SUCCESSION OF BURIED FOREST
Specimen Ridge has been built up by successive Yellowstone eruptions, each layer has an upright petrified forest embedded in it.
posted by 445supermag at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Here's a diagram explaining the interaction of the Pacific, Juan de Fuca, and North American plates

That Juan, he's a real fuca.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is it they're supposed to do, pack up and move?

This is what is known as an "uninsurable risk." For some things, you take active steps to avoid losses. Like, say, wearing a seatbelt, or imposing inventory control. For other things, you basically assume that it's going to happen, but it's a manageable cost, so you set aside money for it or you buy insurance. Maybe both. For other things, the risk is big enough that you just don't do certain things. Like investing in Greek bonds in the summer of 2011 or basing a business model on seeing how much you can get away with copyright infringement.

But for some things, the risk is really huge, but not really avoidable. For those things, you basically say, "Well, shit, I hope that doesn't happen! Cause if it does, I'm f*cked!" and go on with life. It's either that or drastically change your lifestyle in ways that may not actually be helpful.

Take this situation. It's almost a given that the CSZ is going to go off in a bad way in the next century or two. When it does, it's going to suck. The only real solution seems to be to move, because fixing the things that could make the situation better is some combination of impossible (can't change sea level) or unimaginably expensive (e.g. retrofitting every bridge on US 101). And you know what? Taking those steps might not even matter. Sure, you could move to Texas. Not likely to get hit by an earthquake there, and certainly not one spawned by the CSZ. But you are just about as likely to get nuked by the Cat-5 hurricane that goes through there every so often. This is pretty much true of wherever you live: there's always some low-level risk of a natural disaster that is going to take you right the f*ck out. Kansas? Tornadoes. Upstate New York? Disastrous snowfall. Arizona? Wildfires. Pennsylvania? Rainfall-induced flooding. Boston? The Yankees.

But here's the real kicker: you are way, way more likely to get broadsided by a semi while on your way home--whether or not you're driving!--than you are to die or even be affected by an earthquake, let alone a full-rip nine.

So maybe we spend less time worrying about the tsunami apocalypse and more time looking both ways, lest we get rocked by a bus crossing the street while reading an article about the CSZ on our iPhones.
posted by valkyryn at 12:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


> but our building doesn't have gargoyles on it.

This is why you need to attend city council meetings. (Or at least watch them on public access)

They could be debating Gargoyle Addition legislation as this very moment.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:48 PM on August 26, 2011


> Husband and I have two "go bags" and a sealed box.

What's in the box?

Weapons?

posted by mmrtnt at 12:59 PM on August 26, 2011


So maybe we spend less time worrying about the tsunami apocalypse and more time looking both ways

Ah, so you're familiar with our fair city!
posted by Hoopo at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gargoyle repellent.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The CBC did a good documentary about this. They had fun graphics of a tsunami hitting Seaside, Oregon. Which was suitably terrifying as I've been there. Unfortunately it won't stream outside of Canada.

Related: Seattle Viaduct Earthquake Simulation (even more terrifying, as it's got a VERY REALISTIC model of the Seattle Downtown).
posted by BungaDunga at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2011


Note to self: Check insurance policy for earthquake coverage.

The house is high enough and far enough inland that I'm not worried about the tsunami, but I grew up in California and was there for Loma Prieta, so I know what can happen. Driving down the Seattle Viaduct is terrifying, btw. It's so reminiscent of the Bayshore that all I can see as I drive down it is the helicopter footage of that pancake.

I'm not so worried about my house, but there's a bunch of buildings in Downtown Seattle that I'm afraid are going to come down hard.
posted by Revvy at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it still a "go box" if it's your camping set-up with some water? Cause that's our setup. Propane....stove...water....Deep Woods Off (gargoyle repellent)....tablecloth.

I use this site as my source for information on how/what to do before and after. During I got: hide under something. At least that part is easy.

My favourite tidbit about downtown is that all those glass buildings were built to withstand an earthquake by having the windows set to pop out so that the building itself can flex. So, yeah, THAT won't be a problem.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:14 PM on August 26, 2011


Bleargh. This site as my source... Though you guys come in handy from time to time.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:14 PM on August 26, 2011


Part of downtown Seattle was regraded in the late 1800s, so the current downtown is built on landfill that's one to two stories higher than the original street grade.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2011


“It may not happen in a person’s lifetime, but if it does, it’s going to be equivalent to a Katrina-like event.”

It'll happen in SOMEONE's lifetime, surely? Unless we're all dead 500 years from now.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:25 PM on August 26, 2011


eeggaah!

For once, it's a motherfucking beautiful day here in Seattle. The torrential rains in the news are elsewhere. The earthquake was elsewhere. No forest fires. No blizzard.

This was the one weekend we get all year to go to the park and have a damn picnic.

This story could just as easily have been about San Francisco, or Vancouver, or Juneau. Haven't we suffered enough all year to enjoy one weekend with our families? Fuck you Outside magazine.

Actually, it's been a lovely few weeks overall, but most Seattlites enjoy feeling put upon.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tear down all buildings built before 1997 and replace them with earthquake-proof ones (assuming there is such a thing)?

I'd love to see this happen. It's not as if anything is permanent anyway, and gods know our cities are often traffic nightmares (and that's just the cars, not even touching on pedestrian or bicycle stuff). This is already happening in a few places like Detroit because vast numbers of people have abandoned it and it's easier to do the work under those conditions.

Earthquake-"proof" may be impossible but it'd but even if only marginal increases in earthquake resilience were managed, there'd be a lot of other improvements that would get added in to the deal. (As an added bonus, jobs for everyone!)
posted by curious nu at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2011




Tear down all buildings built before 1997 and replace them with earthquake-proof ones (assuming there is such a thing)?


Earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis and such are notoriously damaging to low income neighborhoods. The kind of neighborhood that can't afford brand new, earthquake proof homes.

I'm sure those brand new Condos I saw by the Vancouver waterfront (starting at a cool 5 million) are already earthquake proof, but I'm not holding my breath for the residents of the hostels on East Hastings.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:33 PM on August 26, 2011


I'd love to see this happen. [tearing down all buildings before 1997]

Ugh. Get behind me, Satan. Thinking like that brought us the Empire State Plaza. Cities are supposed to be for people, not cars.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:34 PM on August 26, 2011


KokuRyu: "MetaFilter's own Rumple has blogged about archaeological evidence of tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest. It's well worth a read (as is the rest of his blog)."

Thanks for that, KokuRyu. I've got material for about five posts on the long-term historical evidence for west coast Tsunamis - it's an incredible topic melding oral history, geology, botany and archaeology.

Off the top of my head though, the tsunami model for the Gulf/Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound for a Cascadia subduction quake shows relatively minor tsunami effect with a couple of exceptions (e.g., Bellingham Bay is a bit of a funnel). South of Sooke it's probably a manageable wave.

Having said that, the bigger, and poorly known, Tsunami hazard in the Strait of Georgia is for a collapse of the Fraser River delta foreset, which could be triggered by even a smallish quake, or even just spontaneously happen. This kind of submarine landslide could easily trigger a tsunami with run up heights of 30 vertical metres on places like east side of Mayne and Galiano Islands. It would then rebound, somewhat dissipated, onto Richmond and Delta and YVR.

It's a fascinating hazard which most people don't know about.
posted by Rumple at 1:39 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


The kind of neighborhood that can't afford brand new, earthquake proof homes.

For the record, I wasn't holding the replacement of pre-1997 buildings out as a viable option but to illustrate the impossibility of preparing adequately for an earthquake like this. Basically this guy who feels no one's paying attention to his important Message-o-Doom is asking us to do something we don't have the resources to do, or alternately advising us to keep the possibility of The Big One hitting on our minds constantly and run around shitting our pants in terror.

I for one will save being terrified for when it does happen, and then hope things don't go all Cormac McCarthy afterward.
posted by Hoopo at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seattlites, if you feel the ground shaking today and see people passed out in the streets, don't panic.

PAX is in town this weekend and it's probably just the annual Triwizard drinking tournament.

Unfortunately, I missed the enrollment period, but I'm hoping to catch a view of the insanity later this evening.
posted by formless at 1:51 PM on August 26, 2011



For the record, I wasn't holding the replacement of pre-1997 buildings out as a viable option but to illustrate the impossibility of preparing adequately for an earthquake like this. Basically this guy who feels no one's paying attention to his important Message-o-Doom is asking us to do something we don't have the resources to do, or alternately advising us to keep the possibility of The Big One hitting on our minds constantly and run around shitting our pants in terro


Apparently that's the only way to get an article published these days. Nuanced, level-headed, idea-driven pieces don't sell. Not when you can write this kind of crap:

Except … there’s one solitary figure weav­ing his way west. Toward the ocean. He’s kind of a dirtbag. No shirt, just an old swim­suit and huaraches, rock­­ing the white-dude dreads. Under his arm is a surfboard.

One of the retreating lifeguards spots him. “Dude!” he calls out. “Don’t do it!”

The surfer waves to the lifeguard and continues walking. Three days later they’ll find pieces of his board. His body will never be found.

posted by Stagger Lee at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2011


Tsunami hazard in the Strait of Georgia

Facinating. I'd seen vauge mention of a seiche oscillation in the Striaght, but have never run across mentions of a landslide "tsunami". Makes a lot of sense though, given the sediment types in the area.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on August 26, 2011


Uh. Actually, my takeaway from all this, isn't wide-eyed panic, but that if I am ever in a tsunami zone and a huge earthquake hits, my immediate action should be get to high ground as soon as possible.

This is not information I had before, since I don't live in a tsunami zone. It seems like having a default plan to run (as opposed to being stunned and contemplating what to do), could make a huge difference when we're talking about 20 minutes from shaking, to giant wall of watery death.

If I did live in a tsunami zone, my top priority after reading that article would be to keep the tires on my bike properly inflated...
posted by danny the boy at 1:59 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me that I should really figure out the evacuation plan for the area near my work. I work about two blocks from the beach, and while looking out on the sparkling ocean is lovely, it does start looking terrifying and ominous when you mentally superimpose the image of a giant tsunami on the view. Thankfully, we would likely have enough warning to evacuate, and it would just be a matter of getting through the insane amount of traffic. In which case, I might still be doomed.
posted by yasaman at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2011


Cities are supposed to be for people, not cars.

I agree! But that's how they're used now, and they suck, and also why I off-hand mentioned peds and bikes, so I'm not sure what you're getting at (also, I don't live in NYC, so can't relate to your reference). I have no love nor attachment to the basic "city template" and so would welcome a radical revamp of what a city might look like, for livability reasons. Earthquake proofing would be a side benefit for me.

My point was that, yes, actually, tearing down and rebuilding our cities with an eye to long-term use (and potential consequences, e.g. "what happens if there's an earthquake that shakes the foundations of the world") is a good idea for a lot of reasons.
posted by curious nu at 2:03 PM on August 26, 2011


I for one will save being terrified for when it does happen, and then hope things don't go all Cormac McCarthy afterward.

Being terrified is seldom helpful. I find it's much more helpful to be prepared for the small scale emergencies that are pretty much gauranteed to come up from time-to-time. Wind storms. Snow storms. Power outages. Water main breaks. Aquifer contagion. Alex Rodriguez. There have been sizeable earthquakes and deadly volcanic eruptions in the region in my lifetime. Be prepared for the knowable. Then, if you survive the unknowable, you are much more likely to have the basic mental tools you'll need to survive that, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear San Francisco and Marin: in the event of a tsunami, thanks in advance for taking one for the team so the East Bay only gets splashed. (In the event that the Hayward fault cuts loose, thanks in advance for letting me sleep in a tent in your backyard.)
posted by Zed at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2011


This reminds me that I should really figure out the evacuation plan for the area near my work.

One of the unique features of an earthquake/tsunami threat is that, after the intial danger passes, you have a limited amount of time before the wave hits. More than a lot of other kinds of events where you can adapt and recover from early mistakes as thing evolve, this makes having and following a good plan cruicial.
posted by bonehead at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2011


Earthquake proof buildings are not going to help when the ground liquefies and half of downtown slides into Puget Sound.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:09 PM on August 26, 2011


My earthquake-proof building is made out of duckboats.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've listened to Patrick Corcoran speak at Portland State University several years ago. My main takeaway from that was the PSU practice field was going to be the ideal place to land rescue helicopters for much of downtown Portland. Which is good, since otherwise it's surrounded by bridges and there is a good chance that most of them will be in pretty bad shape.

Of course, I also worked in a building that was half-old/half-new and the advice I was given was "if you feel something shake, move to this half as fast as possible before the other half collapses."

But they left out the most important question: what happens to the Rogue Brewery in Newport? It's right on the water--can I still get Double Chocolate Stout after the apocalypse?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You get down there and protect the Rogue Brewery with your life. You understand me?! WITH. YOUR. LIFE.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


An big problem after a mega quake in the pacific northwest is going to be all those evergreens falling over like dominoes. I don't think people will be driving anywhere the roads will be impassible except on foot. Hopefully one of the trees hasn't fallen on top of you.

Generally speaking, trees* don't usually get toppled by earthquakes. If the quake magnitude is greater than 8.0, that becomes a greater possibility (in some cases it's likely that the tops snap off), but in that event the roads are likely to be completely torn up and impassible anyway.


*They can fall or tip right next to a fault where ground shifts or by landslides on slopes, but shaking won't usually do it unless there are other factors involved, like being newly planted, in an urban environment where normal root extension is limited, or sitting in saturated soil. A tree's root system is often more widespread than the crown of the tree, so it takes uneven force, such as a windstorm, to knock down trees.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2011



You get down there and protect the Rogue Brewery with your life. You understand me?! WITH. YOUR. LIFE.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:17 PM on August 26 [+] [!]


The spiced rum from their new distillery venture is worth several lives alone.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:20 PM on August 26, 2011


Neat. We are headed to Newport on the Oregon Coast this weekend. Thankfully I have printed this handy Tsunami Evacuation Map. I feel much more prepared now.
posted by click at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2011


Guy's, it's Rogue. It's not nearly worth losing your life over.

Now Double Mountain or Cascade Barrelhouse I could see being worth the risk.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:26 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


My life? No. But we weren't talking about my life.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


>The surfer waves to the lifeguard and continues walking. Three days later they’ll find pieces of his board. His body will never be found.

Strangely, the journalist left out the part where the lifeguard says, "Via con Dios".

And the earlier parts, where the surfer wears a Ronald Reagan mask and robs banks.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:39 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


bonehead: "I'd seen vauge mention of a seiche oscillation in the Striaght, but have never run across mentions of a landslide "tsunami". "

See also my posts (self links) on the prehistoric destruction of Kwalate Village on the central coast of BC, and my post on the devastation of the French explorer La Perouse's expedition in 1786 in SE Alaska (Tlingit oral history of the wave), both events caused by waves triggered from landslides into confined waters.

A little more on Fraser Delta collapse here, with links outwards. There are some quite scary scientific papers on this!
posted by Rumple at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this earthshaking seems to have knocked your "b" upside down, sir.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:54 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't even remember my own blog posts: La Perouse did have boats capsized by a wave from a calving glacier, but the major deaths were drownings in the rough waters and currents at the entrance to Lituya Bay; the Tlingit remembrances are of La Perouse appearing like a Raven in a ship with enormous "wings" and also of the numerous wave events Lituya Bay has seen over the centuries, which they attribute to supernatural beings:

“… a monster of the deep who dwells in the ocean caverns near the entrance. He is known as Kan Lituya, ‘the Man of Lituya’ [qa htu 'a?]. He resents any approach to his domain, and all of those whom he destroys become his slaves, and take the form of bears, and from their watch towers on the lofty mountains of the Mt Fairweather range they herald the approach of canoes, and with their master they grasp the surface water and shake it as if it were a sheet, causing tidal waves to rise and engulf the unwary.

posted by Rumple at 4:09 PM on August 26, 2011


I live high up on the north shore in the trees so if any of you people down there flee my way, please loot some booze on your way up.

As a disinfectant for injuries.

PS I would like more information about this 'duckboat building' Flo has and are there vacancies and what are the rental rates and are there any gargoyles involved?
posted by Salmonberry at 4:15 PM on August 26, 2011


Indian Beach in Ecola State Park just south of Seaside is where they filmed the final scene of Point Break. That's where the surfers be.
posted by humanfont at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2011


I live high up on the north shore in the trees so if any of you people down there flee my way, please loot some booze on your way up.

Ever see that episode of the Simpsons where Homer and Burns are in that ski chalet and it goes rocketing down the mountain?
posted by Hoopo at 4:25 PM on August 26, 2011


"The surfer waves to the lifeguard and continues walking. Three days later they’ll find pieces of his board. His body will never be found."

He was actually drowned by vengeful tree octopuses who were migrating south to avoid being hunted by sasquatch. They mistook the surfer for some sort of diminutive aquatic sasquatch and struck without mercy.
posted by homunculus at 5:30 PM on August 26, 2011


Ever see that episode of the Simpsons where Homer and Burns are in that ski chalet and it goes rocketing down the mountain?

Nice try, dude. I went outside and jumped up & down REALLY HARD on the ground and it didn't even move. #winning

( I'm on the back of a ridge so if anything slides down it will come down on top of me and I'd rather at least get to go for a ride first)
posted by Salmonberry at 6:28 PM on August 26, 2011


I live high up on the north shore in the trees so if any of you people down there flee my way, please loot some booze on your way up.

ooh, done. Do I have to wait for an earthquake or would the next hockey riot do?
posted by mannequito at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2011


How is it this thread has discussed the Oregon Coast and yet failed to mention Kindergarten Cop, Short Circuit or Gooneys. There must be a Truffle Shuffle joke in here. MeFi I'm disappoint.
posted by humanfont at 8:18 PM on August 26, 2011


Fall mountains, just don't fall on me.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:21 PM on August 26, 2011


This story could just as easily have been about San Francisco, or Vancouver, or Juneau. Haven't we suffered enough all year to enjoy one weekend with our families? Fuck you Outside magazine.

This could never happen in Juneau. For one, we never have sunny days.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:22 PM on August 26, 2011


I honestly think this is excellent fodder for a good, realistic disaster film. "I'm not talking "Volcano", but rather "The Towering Inferno". One of those films that actually gets people talking about the issue, and maybe spurs some action.
posted by happyroach at 12:12 AM on August 27, 2011


Humanfont, there were no Goonies jokes up there because up there it was their time. This deep in the thread it's our time. It's our time down here.
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 AM on August 27, 2011


Hmm. Just bought a 100-year-old house in Victoria. I'm taking the 'don't think about it and have a beer' approach to this one.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:24 AM on August 27, 2011


Reading that six days before a four-day car holiday to delightful Netarts, Oregon, an hour or so south of Cannon Beach, and less than six months after uncomprehendingly and traumatisingly watching the tsunami sweep ashore on my iPhone before recoiling in horror and distress, may I award my Seattle-based homies at Outside the treasured FUCKING DICK OF THE YEAR award.

Fucking dicks.
posted by mwhybark at 6:15 PM on August 27, 2011


You know what? When I find that I cannot sleep next weekend I will amuse myself by drunkdialing random staffers at Outside.


No, no, no of course I won't, because I will be cowering in terror, innumerate.
posted by mwhybark at 6:17 PM on August 27, 2011


I was fortunate enough to be asked to lead a team of civil engineers investigating port structure performance in Japan. While in country we traveled along the coast recording damage from the earthquake and tsunami and based on what i saw, let me just say that this white paper couldn't be more accurate (ok, it might be overly optimistic). After a day or two of seeing the completely inconceivable damage caused by the tsunami, i ran out of words to describe it (and sadly became somewhat numb to the car graveyards (each likely corresponding to a dead driver) and the boats floated onto rooftops). But it also made me glad that i merely live 1000 ft from the hayward fault and NOT in the pacific northwest.

California has been designing and building to maintain earthquake safety for decades, and the pacific northwest is now following suit based on changing building codes (and those change pretty slowly as well). Unfortunately, killer buildings remain out there and will continue to be in the stock until a big quake finally comes along and fails them. But at least in japan the damage due to earthquakes was relatively few by comparison to that due to the tsunami. But the death toll would probably have been much greater had there not been education of post quake tsunamis and sufficiently hilly terrain that there was some elevation to escape to (exception: the sendai plains). If there is anything i can say for those on the coasts, it's that VERTICAL EVACUATION should be your first priority (forget the damn beer). DO NOT get in your car (you will die in it, as did port workers who tried to escape Sendai port). Find the closest 6 to 8 story concrete or steel frame building and get as high as possible. If there's no buildings around, climb the biggest hill you can find. If there's no hill...well sorry, you'll be left with prayer.

We are fortunate that the coast is relatively sparsely populated, unlike japan (but similar to Chile...which i was also had the opportunity to do a investigation with the ASCE team). Hopefully by the time this earthquake occurs it will be 200 years from now and we'll all be brains in a jar in our floating sky mansions (hey, a boy can dream), but in the meantime please take these risks seriously and understand that they are not too big to survive. Yes, you could get hit by a truck crossing the street, but you know to look both ways, it's not a bad idea to also know to run for the highest point after a major quake in the northwest.
posted by NGnerd at 11:50 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


« Older Several commentators are advocating the deregulati...  |  The Third Wheel.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments