Washington Earthquakes Happen More Often Than You Think

Melissa Stusinski - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 3:39 a.m. ET

While earthquakes in Washington aren’t all that uncommon, they rarely cause damage. Such was the case when a 4.3 tremor hit 16 miles north of Leavenworth in the central part of the state.

While the quake, which was 6.33 miles deep, happened at 7:45 pm local time and was felt through most of the state. An aftershock registering 2.4 on the Richter scale happened at 9:21 pm.

But earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest are actually fairly common, whether or not residents can feel them. This is because the region is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and has several active fault lines.

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Tremors there normally range between 1.0 and 2.5 on the Richter scale, though at times they have been much higher. MyNorthwest.com has set up an earthquake tracker to monitor Washington, Oregon, and part of British Columbia, Canada.

In all, at least 45 tremors have hit in the area in the past week. While the majority of them are minor, it is possible that a much larger earthquake could happen at any time. Such was the case on February 28, 2001, when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the Nisqually Valley.

The massive quake went on for 45 seconds and was felt as far away as Vancouver, Canada, and Scio, Oregon. There were no deaths related to the earthquake, though 400 people were injured.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case this time. The 4.3 magnitude Central Washington quake shook up a few people, but caused no injuries. Pam McElravy, who was at the YMCA camp at Lake Chalen when the quake struck, recalled:

“The whole house shook, everything rattled, the water and the dogs dish went from side to side and it was just a huge roar like a big thunder rumble right on top of us.”

Hundreds of people also responded to the USGS website’s “Did You Feel It?” post from Olympia to Kent, Issaquah, and Mount Vernon. Kaitlyn Griffith, who was in Leavenworth at the time, also stated, “We really felt it here… Felt like our house was being bulldozed.”

Like in other active areas, like California, Russia, China, and Japan, it won’t be the last earthquake for Washington, or the strongest.

[Image via ShutterStock]


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