How likely will the ‘big one’ occur in our lifetime?

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 5:58 PM

What To Do If An Earthquake Hits

Editor's Note: This story first appeared July 16, 2015 and answers questions inspired by an article written by The New Yorker's Kathryn Schulz. Her story, "The Really Big One," was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing on Monday. The Pulitzer Prize is considered journalism's highest honor.

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Some in the Northwest have admitted to losing sleep after the New Yorker's terrifying article on how the "big one" will devastate Seattle and everything west of Interstate 5. 

"If the entire [Cascade Subduction] zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2," wrote Kathyrn Schulz. "That’s the very big one."

People are calling into the Seattle Emergency Management Office asking what they can do -- and if Seattle is prepared. 

Debbie Goetz with the department said the city is prepared for the "big one."

She says the best advice for people living here is to have an emergency plan: Discuss with your family where and how you'd meet up in the event of an emergency that knocks out cellphone service.

Local experts -- from Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Seattle Emergency Management Office, and The Seattle Times -- weighed in on the Cascadia earthquake during an Ask Me Anything on Reddit

John Vidale, director of the PNSN, wrote in the AMA, “ Overall, it was a well-written and documented article. The scenario left an impression of much greater devastation that is anticipated to occur, however."

As the science in Schulz's article is correct, below are seven questions and answers that may bring a little calm. 

1. You say the average frequency of such an event is 1 in 300 years. Do you know if the distribution is roughly uniform? My guess is that it would tend to decrease over time -- but I've also just googled and found articles that suggest continental drift is actually speeding up. Or is the distribution of big earthquakes something that we don't really have a good handle on at the moment? 

Good question. At the highest magnitude, the magnitude-frequency distribution is no longer exponential. The Gutenberg-Richter distribution is recast as the truncated or doubly-truncated Gutenberg Richter distribution, which reflects approaching a physical limit on the possible size of earthquakes.

I think the global limit is thought to be somewhere around 10. But remember, breakage of Cascadia has a small chance of triggering the Queen Charlotte fault, which has a small chance of triggering big faults along the Aleutians. So in the case of very, very, very rare and large events, one is not limited to just one fault.

2. Will Seattle (or anywhere in the PNW, really) ever implement earthquake early warning systems as mentioned in the New Yorker article about Japan?

We [PNSN] are currently testing earthquake early warning in the Pacific Northwest, in fact I have it on my phone now.

It needs more testing and full funding before it is ready to be released to the public, however. 

3. How would a major earthquake affect the nearby volcanoes? 

The same process of subduction - where one tectonic plate dives under another - is responsible for both our earthquake risk and the creation of our volcanoes. In other places, like Chile, volcanic eruptions have followed major earthquakes. Several of Japan's volcanoes became more active after their M 9 quake and tsunami in 2011. But I haven't heard of any good evidence that Mount Rainier or other Cascade volcanoes erupted in a serious way in 1700, the year of our last megaquake. 

4. Any chance of a NW quake setting off the Yellowstone caldera? 

Zero. And a Yellowstone eruption is so unlikely and so prevalent among questions from the public that it is a major source of irritation to many scientists. 

5. Did you see inaccuracies in the New Yorker article or was there anything about it that bothered you? 

Overall, it was a well-written and documented article. The scenario left an impression of much greater devastation that is anticipated to occur, however. 

6. What are the chances "the big one" will never come in our lifetime? How much do most of us not understand about probability and statistics when it comes to natural disasters like earthquakes?

If the chance it will come is 15%, the chance it won't come is 85% (if we're expecting to live another 50 years). However, there are plenty of "pretty big ones" to worry about as well, so you're overwhelming likely to see some action in the PNW.

Statistically, we're more likely to have another deep source quake like the Nisqually, that occurred in 2001. Chances for another one are above 80% within the next 50 years.

7. How realistic is it that 3 days' supplies (the minimum recommended) will enable my survival of the Very Big One in Seattle? And how many days' supplies do you personally have in your home ready for an earthquake?

We recommend people prepare themselves for 7 to 10 days vs. three. For a major quake, life won't be back to "normal" after just three days. I've got enough at home to make it through a week, and also keep a stash of stuff in my car as well as at work.

Beyond supplies, I always encourage people to talk about their plans - especially around communication, which we know will be affected. Where will they be? How can they get back together? Where could they meet if not at home? 

(Getty file photo OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)(OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Rapper Killer Mike defends gun ownership in NRA video

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 7:57 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for KROQ)
Emma McIntyre
File photo. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for KROQ)(Emma McIntyre)

Killer Mike has been outspoken about several social issues, including equality, racism and police brutality. Now he’s speaking up about gun ownership.

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In a recent NRATV interview, the Atlanta rapper defended the Second Amendment and challenged anti-gun protesters amid March for Our Lives, the nationwide demonstrations for stricter gun laws.

“You’re not woke! You can’t continue to be the lackey,” he told NRATV host Colion Noir. “You’re a lackey of the progressive movement, because you’ve never disagreed with the people who tell you what to do.”

He also criticized National Walkout Day, where thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms as a protest against gun violence following the Parkland High shooting in Florida.

“I told my kids on the school walkout: ‘I love you. If you walk out that school, walk out my house,’” the artist said. “We are a gun-owning family. We are a family where my sister farms. We are a family where we'll fish, we'll hunt. But we are not a family that jumps on every single thing an ally of ours does because some stuff we just don't agree with.”

He also discussed what he teaches his children about gun control.

“I'm very pro-Second Amendment, this is why,” he said. “And before you say, ‘What about the children,’ my daughter goes to Savannah State University. There was also a shooting on that campus. Talked to my wife and daughter after that, the decision was we're gonna go to Savannah, she's gonna get a gun and train more.”

Take a look at the clip below.

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Chinese food delivery man fights off robbers, police say

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 6:47 PM

File photo.  (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Chinese food delivery man fought off a gun-wielding attacker who tried to rob him on Monday in an apartment building’s stairway landing, according to police. 

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Police are still searching for the suspects who placed a fake $31.85 order from Peking Kitchen to lure the deliverer to the building, according to the New York Daily News

“I was about to go downstairs and he pointed the gun at me, and he said, ‘Give us the money. I’m going to shoot you,’” deliveryman Saikou Tambajang, 56, told the Daily News. “He pointed the gun at my head. I threw a forearm into him so he wouldn’t shoot me.”

Tambajang, who makes deliveries to send money home to his family in Gambia, fought off the attackers, who fled without food or money. 

“I didn’t know what to do,” Tambajang told the Daily News. “It was the only way I could defend myself. Sometimes if you give them the money they shoot you anyway.”

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Local students, families take part in D.C. march against gun violence

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:34 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:34 PM

Students from Centerville High School and a family from Yellow Springs attended the March for our Lives rally in D.C.

Stephanie Cooper, 18, of Yellow Springs still remembers the first school shooting she ever heard about.

It was at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty–six people died. Twenty of them were first–graders.

It was 2012. She was in middle school.

“To me it seems like it started happening more frequently after that,” Cooper said.

Lili Eiswas, a senior from Centerville, was at the D.C. march against gun violence on Saturday.

On Saturday, she and hundreds of thousands of fellow students descended on Washington, D.C. in hopes of reversing that trend, as a march organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, packed D.C. streets with protesters of all ages — but dominated by the young.

“If you listen real close you can hear the people in power shaking,” said David Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., who took video as he and his fellow students hid from the gunman who opened fire on the school last month, killing 17. “Inaction is no longer safe.”

“Fight for your lives,” said fellow student Emma Gonzalez, who stood silent for much of her time on the stage to depict the just over six minutes the shooter killed 17 in her high school. “Before it’s someone else’s job.”

The march was organized by Hogg and other students from Marjory Stoneman High School. But speakers — all young — represented students from Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. The oldest speaker was 19; the youngest, 11. Only the entertainment — which included Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson and Lin–Manuel Miranda — were older.

Preliminary estimates put the crowd at about 500,000 people, making it the largest gathering to descend on Washington, D.C., since the January 2017 women’s march, which drew roughly the same number.

Megan Rose, a senior at Centerville High School, went to the march in D.C. Saturday. Says a flat tire on the bus couldn't keep her away.

While that march was billed as the women’s march, however, speakers at that march also talked about gay rights, Muslim rights and featured an amalgamation of causes. Saturday’s protest, however, was clearly and acutely focused on one issue: Stopping the mass shootings that have occurred around the nation, and ousting lawmakers who were unwilling to help stop those shootings by passing gun control legislation. But the protesters themselves didn’t look like a well-heeled special interest group; instead, it appeared as if a massive high school tour bus had suddenly dropped off thousands of passengers on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“I am here to represent the African–American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” said Naomi Wadler, 11, of Alexandria, Va., who organized a walk–out and die–in on February 14 at her elementary school. “I represent African-American women who are victims of gun violence who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls who are full of potential.”

Wall–to–wall people crushed against one another inside police barricades, while outside, the streets were thick with young students, the elderly and parents pushing strollers. Similar rallies occurred in Columbus, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Parkland, Florida, as well as in other cities. Crowds also gathered in London, England; Frankfurt, Germany; and Sydney, Australia.

Among those in the crowd were Zach Dudzik, 19, an Ohio State freshman from Lakewood, Ohio, who decided to go after hearing the Parkland students characterized as “crisis actors.” He said he was outraged that people would not believe that students impacted by the issue could organize. “We deserve to have a voice and an impact on issues,” he said.

He said it feels like the shootings occur every week. “It’s really easy to be desensitized to it,” he said. “The fact that it happens so much shouldn’t make it less. It makes it worse.”

He traveled with Abi Norman, 19, an OSU sophomore also from Lakewood. She is studying to be a music teacher.

“I don’t want a gun,” she said. “I don’t want my coworkers to have guns.”

She said she has always felt safe at school, but the burden of the spate of mass shootings has taken a toll all the same.

“Every time I got to a movie theater, I’m checking every face. I’m always trying to be aware,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the way it should be.”

Megan Rose, 18, a senior at Centerville High School, said she participated in a walkout a couple of weeks ago.

“I was like, well what else can I do as a student?” she said. “And I thought why not come to Washington, D.C.”

Counter-protesters were present but rare. Two men standing in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue held signs. “When seconds count, police are minutes away,” one said. “I carry on campus,” the other sign read. “Teachers should too.”

“I respect you, but I think you’re wrong,” said a man as he walked by.

Among those navigating the crowd was Kris Knight of Gahanna, who brought his son Owen.

“It felt like it was the right time to get involved,” Knight said.

He brought his nine–year–old son so “he could see what young people were capable of doing when they really believed in something.”

“It was something he wanted to do,” he said. “It was something he felt strongly about.”

Elaine Zamonski of Kettering brought her daughters Mira, 8, Katherine, 11, Veronica, 14 and Veronica’s friend Alice, 14.

“I brought them because I wanted them to see that people’s voices have power,” she said. “In a conservative district like Kettering, they sometimes feel lonely in their views and rallies are inspiring.”

Before coming to the March for our Lives in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Barbara Carr of Buffalo, N.Y., sat down with a pink apron and painstakingly wrote out the names of every person who had died in a school shooting since the Columbine shootings in 1999.

Stephanie Cooper, 18, her mother Christina, father Robert and brother Peter, 15, at the march for our lives in Washington. They are from yellow springs(Washington Bureau)

A Sharpie pressed to the fabric, she wrote down more than 300 names. She wore those names on her back. She had to do her research, she said, in order to feel that she deserved to be there.

“It was hard,” she said, her eyes welling up as throngs of people crushed around her on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. “It was hard.”

Cooper, meanwhile, said she and her mother have had conversations. If there’s a mass shooting, her mother warns her, play dead if she can’t run.

“She gets really worried every time one happens,” she said, of the school shootings that have become a routine occurrence in her childhood.

On Saturday, she hoped those worries would translate to action.

“I just hope they realize that we’re the ones who are going to be voting them in the next couple of years,” she said of lawmakers. “So if they want to stay in power, they have to do what we ask them to do.”

(Jack Torry, Washington bureau chief, contributed to this report.)

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Naomi Wadler, age 11, delivers powerful message at March for Our Lives rally

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 2:33 PM

VIDEO: Scenes from March for Our Lives Rallies

An 11-year-old girl delivered a powerful message about gun violence at the March for Our Lives rally Saturday in the nation's capital.

Naomi Wadler, a fifth-grader at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, focused her speech on the gun violence that African-American women face, and how often their stories go untold.

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"I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don't make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don't lead the evening news," Wadler told the crowd.

"For far too long these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers. I'm here to say 'never again' for those girls, too," Wadler said.

Wadler rejected the notion that she was too young to understand the issue. "People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own. People have said that I am a tool of some nameless adult. It's not true," Wadler said.

"We know life isn't equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong," Wadler said.

Her speech quickly began trending on Twitter.

Wadler also helped organize a walkout at her school to protest gun violence on March 14, the Fairfax County Times reported.

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