FEMA Warns The Big One Will Be Much Bigger Than You Think
“Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” Well then. That's not very optimistic, is it? But, according to the New Yorker article entitled The Really Big One, that’s what Kenneth Murphy (director of FEMA’s Region X) believes will happen after the long-overdue Cascadia earthquake and Tsunami. What’s that? You weren’t aware there is a massive fault line running off the coast of Cape Mendocino, California, and runs all the way up to Vancouver Island, British Columbia? That’s OK. Most people only really know about the famous San Andreas Fault, made even more infamous by the recent film. But it’s true. There’s another, lesser-known fault that is just biding its time, waiting to wipe out everything west of the I-5. But before we delve into this new threat (which is really not that new at all), let’s do some comparisons. According to the New Yorker article (see above for link), the San Andreas earthquake – when it happens – will only reach about an 8.2. Yes, indeed that is powerful (as the Emperor has foreseen...), but it will probably be more like “a” big one rather than “the” big one. The Cascadia subduction zone, however, is a different story. If only the southernmost part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way, that earthquake will be between an 8.0 and an 8.6. That’s getting up there in size. However, if the whole thing goes off at once, experts expect “the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2.” Nervous yet? No? Then check this out. When this earthquake hits, “the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty feet to a hundred feet to the west – losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries.” That makes it sound like like North America is going to turn into a giant springboard. Which, essentially, is what will happen. [caption id="attachment_18573" align="alignright" width="300"] Earth Magazine[/caption] Don't worry, it took me quite a few passes on this to finally understand what's going on. Let me help you out here. For hundreds of years, there has been a lot of pushing between the North American tectonic plate and the oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca (which, by the way, is ninety thousand square miles long. Yowzah.). By pushing and pushing and pushing for so long – neither side wanting to budge – the Pacific Northwest is being forced upward and compressing eastward. Of course, this movement is slow. Very slow. As in “three to four millimeters and thirty to forty millimeters a year” slow. After centuries of this scrum, North America will bounce back. Think of a spring recoiling. When that happens…the ground will not be as solid as you might like. This is when “the actual big one” will happen. Fortunately, there’s a long intermission between these monster quakes – 243 (ish) years, so the experts say. Unfortunately, we’re 72 years past the dimming of the lights and the raising of the curtain. In other words, this show is long overdue. By this point, we’ve all but forgotten the last time this happened. Now, we’re being urged to remember. The consequences of forgetting – or ignoring – this threat can (dare I say “will”?) be catastrophic. [caption id="attachment_18582" align="alignright" width="300"] Japan earthquake and tsunami, 2011[/caption] But that’s not all. When the curtains rise and the final act is played out (ie. the earthquake), there will most definitely be a curtain call - an epic encore performance, if you will - in the form of one of the largest tsunami’s you’ve never seen. It will be so big, in fact, that “it will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land.” When this brick wall of water hits land, it will transform into “a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and door frames and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.” And yes, there will be casualties. FEMA predicts a death toll of about 13,000 people, with tens of thousands more injured. During the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, over 15,000 people were killed. And this is a country that is prone to earthquakes and have preventative measures and emergency alert systems in place. The Pacific North West is not nearly as prepared as Japan. Along the to-be effected area following the Cascadia quake, preparations are few and far between. Homes are not retrofitted, and advanced warning systems will most likely involve your dog barking up a storm. The worst part is, once the earth stops rumbling, you will only have about 15 minutes to get out. Anything – and anyone – left in the splash zone won’t be coming back. The implications of this earthquake and tsunami are huge. So huge, in fact, that I will examine the repercussions in my next post on Friday. So stay tuned. We’ve got a lot to talk about. Are you living near this area? What are you doing to prepare for “the really big one?” Related Articles: The Desolation of Cascadia...and How to Prepare: /blog/18627/desolation-cascadia/ 2 Things Japan Teaches Us About Disaster Preparation: /blog/17832/2-things-japan-teaches-us-disaster-preparation/ From Nepal to Michigan - Earthquakes Happen Anywhere: /blog/18128/earthquakes-happen-anywhere/
Dr.Juan Hung Lou
I agree, we need to sugar coat things and blow smoke up their back side. Under no circumstances should we ever mention the worse case scenario, as that has never happened in history. By they way, can anyone tell me when has anything political ever been correct?
To those that think fear shouldn’t be a motivator is a fool , this is just one of many reasons you should prepare . Many people think that nothing will happen , the United States is a strong country ,we’re nearing 20 trillion in debt , what do you morons thinks going to happen when we default on our debt , that we’ll all live like it’s an episode of little house on the prairie , even if that show was reality in our present time they still need supplies to survive , these supples will be scarce and that’s just one example besides the one mentioned on this site , let’s see what else , massive solar storm that would disrupt food supplies , serious chemical spill , nuclear accident , most people live within the 50 evacuation zone of a nuke plant , some jackoff terrorist sets off a dirty bomb not to mention the stupid talk that people say like who cares if these Middle East country nuke each other don’t realize what a nuke going off on anybody’s land would do to the world economy . People better get their heads from out thier butts because our govt couldn’t even handle caring for those effected by the aftermath of hurricane Katrina , what do you think will happen when something big happens
Unfortunately, the NYT original article is rife with scientific errors. They have sensationalized the scientific data.
As an example, turbidite studies done off of the coast have suggested that the southern end of the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) slips more frequently (that is where the “243(ish)” number comes from. But that is not the case for the entire CSZ. Slips of the entire megathrust occur an intervals ranging from 200 to 1300 years (Atwater, et al). There is no pattern, so saying that it is overdue to slip is a silly statement at best.
This doesn’t mean that folks living in this area shouldn’t be prepared for an earthquake, We have other sources of earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest (magamtic, surface faults, and intraplate earthquakes within the subducting Juan de Fuca Plate) and the CSZ may well rupture, but this sensationalistic reporting can “overpanic” people to a point that they just feel it’s hopeless and will not take measures to prepare.
if you click on the orange hyperlink in this article you will find the article word for word by Cody Sullivan. it is word for word what Fema expects and prepares for! it is better to be prepared than not. But of course, it is your choice .
I think the people surrounding the Ark just before it rained made comments like the ones posted here…….that is until the flood waters started to rise, then they beat on the door of the Ark to be let in, but it was too late.
Here on the East coast (Cape Cod, MA. we hear talk of the Cumbre Vieja on the Isla de La Palma in the Canary Islands.
We’re told to expect a wall of water high enough to wash over the Cape and for miles inland.
If not a tsunami then the Yellowstone caldera or a space rock into an ocean.
I wonder if anyone is safe anywhere even with reasonable and prudent precautions?
I fear what may overtake us and how UN-prepared we really are as individuals and as a society.