Growing up in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), I was always told that it was only a matter of time before the Big One hit. An earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that would wash away large parts of the whole region.
Now, researchers and emergency services are preparing for when a tsunami hits Washington: the question isn’t if it will happen, it’s only when…and what we can do to prepare.
Welcome to Air Station Port Angeles
Port Angeles is a small town on the northern coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. You can take a ferry to Victoria, Canada from here; it’s also key for tsunami preparedness, hosting Air Station Port Angeles.
This US Coast Guard installation is key to preparing for the tsunami that is guaranteed to hit the PNW at any time. It could be tomorrow, in a month, or in ten years.
All that researchers know is the tectonic plates in that area will eventually collide in such a way that a tsunami results.
At that time, a massive tsunami will travel down the Juan de Fuca Strait and swamps Vancouver Island and whole areas of the Washington Coast via Puget Sound.
This is the kinda earthquake Seattle fears from the Seattle Fault. A very shallow magnitude 7+ quake, which would also cause a tsunami in the Puget Sound, as well as landslides on our big hills. The fault runs right under the heart of the city. https://t.co/IsL7op6gFj
— KendallofAdam (@Aphantomknight1) February 6, 2023
The Big One
The Juan de Fuca plate and North American tectonic plate are always sliding and jostling.
At some point, the Juan de Fuca plate is going to slide under the North American one and jack it about 30 feet in the air, causing an earthquake and a massive tsunami apocalypse.
The epicenter of around 7 to 9 Richter magnitude earthquake (the Big One) will hit offshore around the area where the plates overlap and generate waves of up to 60 feet or higher.
That’s a wall of water. California all the way to Oregon, Washington, and BC Canada have been preparing for decades. The entire area from northern California about 100 miles under the Oregon border all the way up to Canada will be at severe risk.
The coast guard’s motto isn’t Semper paratus (“always ready”) for nothing.
Though when this monster hits, all bets are off, especially considering the Coast Guard could be some of the first swept away in Armageddon waves.
Watch the water
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Public scare event necessary
Why am I getting actual Tsunami vibes??? https://t.co/rXOR7D7iCq
— BrettXRP (@BrettXRP) April 13, 2023
The Bottom Line
Over 112,000 people live in the four Washington counties that will likely be overrun by this tsunami, as well as hundreds of thousands on Vancouver Island, Canada, and further south in Oregon.
Around 1,100 would not make it through the earthquake, at which point residents need to do everything they can to evacuate their area if possible via special tsunami evacuation routes.
An estimated 20,000 Americans would perish in the first moments of this tsunami, getting torn out into the middle of the ocean or crushed under smashed buildings, trees, and vehicles.
In addition to the Coast Guard, the Puget Sound Pilots marine safety facility also patrols the area with 50 elite pilots helping with shipping and navigation.
Whereas when the big one hits, all bets are off. We need to prepare more and residents of the PNW need to consult their tsunami evacuation plan.This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.