When Do You Want the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake to Happen?

4 a.m. on a weekend, after Labor Day ...

by Eric Holdeman / March 14, 2019

There is a new article out about the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, see Off the Richter Scale Can the Pacific Northwest prepare for the cataclysmic quake that’s coming? 

It has been 319 years since the last event described in the link above. We are back in the "window" for another event. When would the best time for an earthquake of this magnitude to hit? There are better times than others. You don't want the schools in session, tourists on the beaches, cars on the road, so the article suggests, "The ideal time would therefore be after Labor Day, when the beach is less crowded but before the autumn rains come, and better by far at 4 AM, when schools and downtown high-rises are empty and there’s little or no traffic on bridges."

The 2001 Nisqually earthquake happened at an ideal time for limiting the number of landslides. Typically February would have seen saturated soils and thousands of landslides, but it was one of the driest winters on record. Thus, many hundreds of fewer landslides.

The article reminds me a bit of The Really Big One done by The New Yorker magazine a number of years ago. That piece didn't motivate governments to anything here in Washington, so I expect this one to do little to change our "non-preparedness — disaster fragility" courses of action. Cascadia Rising did motivate Washington state to follow Oregon's lead and start to message two-weeks of disaster preparedness, versus the standard national model of three days/72 hours. 

Hope does spring eternal and there is some legislation in the Washington Legislature in this session. Some for more studies, and some rumblings about addressing Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (URM). I'm pessimistic, since no one has died yet — recently, thus the motivation for action is low.

Save this article for when after the next earthquake you can say, "I told you so!" 

Yumei Wang shared the first link above.