MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Another Emergency Alert System blare will hit your cellphone on Thursday

Oct 15, 2023, 4:25 PM | Updated: Oct 16, 2023, 11:57 am

earthquake research...

Parked cars are covered with bricks on February 28, 2001, after an earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, hit Seattle and surrounding areas, causing widespread damage and dozens of injuries. (Photo by DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Early this month, the National test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system buzzed cell phones and aired EAS messages on TVs, radios, and across cable and satellite broadcast systems.

This Thursday, the Great Shakeout will use EAS again to initiate the Great Shakeout earthquake drill at about 10:19 a.m. across the state. This time, TV and radio broadcasters along with cable systems will air this EAS test initiated by the National Weather Service (NWS) on the NOAA Weather Radio all-hazard network.

The Great Shakeout is a global drop, cover and hold earthquake drill with over 40 million people registered to participate. In Washington, over 1.2 million people have already registered at ShakeOut.org.

Washington is the number two earthquake-threatened state in the nation, second only to California. The recent 4.3 magnitude quake near Marrowstone Island just south of Port Townsend served as a reminder that Washington is earthquake country.

Everyone needs to prepare for earthquakes. In the interior of Western Washington, a number of earthquake faults crisscross the region including the Seattle fault, the Tacoma fault, the South Whidbey Island fault and the Saddle Mountain fault. All of these faults have generated at least 7.0 magnitude quakes in geologic history.

Then there is the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific Northwest coast. History shows this zone can produce around 9.0 magnitude quakes, the last being on January 26, 1700. Geologists indicate this earthquake source releases pressure about every 300 to 500 years, meaning it could occur at any time now. This subduction zone is similar others around the Pacific Ocean basin including the one off the coast of Japan that produced a major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Earthquakes are no-notice events. This year’s Great Shakeout earthquake drill has a focus on being prepared and safe wherever you may be at the time an earthquake occurs. For instance, people spend about a third of their lives asleep. Daily lives also occur at work, school, shopping or while traveling. Schools use this event as their October monthly emergency drill.

Other news: Boulder smashes car after falling from Renton overpass

So, it is crucial to consider earthquake safety actions wherever you may be when a quake strikes. Communication with loved ones and work staff is also important. Phone systems will likely be overwhelmed in the wake of a quake.

Having a backup communication plan can be critical. The Great Shakeout drill offers the chance to practice your backup communication plan. Know in advance how and who to reach in case phone and power systems go out of service.

When a big earthquake occurs, it is also essential to know if you are in a low-lying coastal tsunami inundation hazard zone. Ground shaking may be the only warning before a tsunami waves arrive. Knowing in advance evacuation routes and where to move to higher ground including vertical evacuation in multi-story buildings or towers is imperative. Many outer Washington coastal schools will also practice their tsunami evacuation plans following the earthquake drill.

Thursday morning’s Great Shakeout drill will offer the opportunity to practice dropping, covering and holding on under a sturdy structure for a minute. Many will have fun during the event by taking photos and videos while under a table or desk, and post them on social media.

To register for the Great Shakeout Washington and to learn more information about this annual earthquake drill and how to better prepare your home, workplace, school and more for earthquakes, visit ShakeOut.org. 

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist and an emergency preparedness specialist.

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Another Emergency Alert System blare will hit your cellphone on Thursday