Cascadia Rising: FEMA Drill Slated For Pacific Northwest, Massive Earthquake And Tsunami ‘Overdue’ In Region

The Pacific Northwest is officially overdue for a massive earthquake that could produce 30 times more energy than the San Andreas. The megaquake located along the Cascadia Subduction Zone could produce a devastating tsunami in the region with waves towering over 50 feet. With scientists determining the region is overdue for the massive quake that could kill 13,000 and injure upwards of 30,000, FEMA has scheduled a large-scale drill in the area they are calling Cascadia Rising.

The Daily Mail reports that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is preparing for a large-scale drill in northern California, Oregon, and Washington in June that will determine if area officials are as prepared as possible for the impending natural disaster. FEMA is slated to perform the Cascadia Rising drill from June 7-10. The drill will take place alongside local and state officials with the help of a series of military groups.

The drill comes as scientists begin taking the threat of a Cascadia Subduction Zone megaquake very seriously. Researchers have revealed that a devastating earthquake is due in the Pacific Northwest that will destroy much of the coastal region causing widespread damage in its wake. If the earthquake which could reach 9.0 magnitude for three to five minutes isn’t bad enough, the megaquake could potentially trigger a tsunami that could reach over 50 feet in height. The wave would sweep over the already earthquake-damaged region causing even more widespread devastation.

Chris Goldfinger, a professor of geophysics at Oregon State University, tells CNN that an earthquake created by the Cascadia Subduction Zone could produce energy that is 30 times more powerful than devastating San Andreas fault quake.

“Cascadia can make an earthquake almost 30 times more energetic than the San Andreas to start with. Then it generates a tsunami at the same time, which the side-by-side motion of the San Andreas can’t do.”

This means that the region would experience a massive earthquake followed by a mega tsunami making the danger two-fold for California, Oregon, and Washington. Goldfinger says that the overdue quake could reach 9.0 magnitude and last an astonishing three to five minutes, which the earthquake expert says will feel like an eternity to those in the quakes path.

“In this case, three minutes – and I’ve been in a 9 in Japan – three minutes is an eternity. It is a very, very long time.”

Should an earthquake of this magnitude hit the region, an estimated 1,000 bridges could collapse and the main coastal highway 101 would be impassable. Interstate 5 running further inland would also likely need to be rerouted due to cracks in the road. The death toll could reach as high as 13,000 with upwards of 30,000 injured. Therefore, scientists and government agencies have been planning for the best ways to respond to such a disaster.

FEMA now hopes to test local and state authorities by running the drill to determine areas that each agency can improve before the “big one” hits. Lt. Col. Clayton Braun of the Washington State Army National Guard notes that the response needed for the Cascadia quake would be larger than Hurricane Katrina or Sandy, making it the largest to date.

“What planners envision is a deployment of civilian and military personnel and equipment that would eclipse the response to any natural disaster that has occurred thus far in the US. There would be waves of cargo planes, helicopters and ships, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers, emergency officials, mortuary teams, police officers, firefighters, engineers, medical personnel and other specialists.”

Cascadia Subduction Zone
Military response team plans for an earthquake and tsunami in Washington state, as part of federal, state and military preparation for the "Big One" along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Do you think the Cascadia Rising drill is beneficial to ensuring swift emergency response should the “big one” hit the Pacific Northwest?

[Image by Ted S. Warren/AP Photo]