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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.

>> Read more trending news

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)

Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson says she's skipping Trump's State of the Union address

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:51 AM

President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). (Photo credits: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). (Photo credits: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Donald Trump and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who were locked in a well-documented feud months ago over the latter’s account of a phone call between the president and the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnsonmay have a new reason to renew their spat.

>> On Rare.us: Frederica Wilson renews fight with John Kelly and President Trump

Wilson has announced two weeks ahead of Trump’s first State of the Union address that she will be following in the footsteps of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calf.) and others by ditching the occasion.

The Florida Democrat said “recent racist and incendiary remarks about Haiti and African nations” were the reason why she won’t be on hand for the speech.

“For the first time since I began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will not be attending the president’s State of the Union address. I have no doubt that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans, President Trump’s address will be full of innuendo, empty promises and lies,” she said in a statement, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

>> Read more trending news 

“During his disappointing and destructive first year in office, Mr. Trump has demeaned the presidency at every opportunity and cast doubt on our nation’s standing as a global leader. The United States’ reputation is smoldering in the ashes of his recent racist and incendiary remarks about Haiti and African nations,” she continued. “Many of his proposed domestic policies are harmful to people of color, low-income communities and the middle class. It would be an embarrassment to be seen with him at a forum that under any other president would be an honor to attend.”

As mentioned, Waters also announced that she will not be attending the SOTU.

Waters, who also called Trump a “racist,” went on MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” to say Trump “does not deserve her attention.”

“Oh no, I didn’t go to the inauguration. I didn’t go to the joint session that was held after that; I don’t intend to go to this one. Why would I take my time to go and listen to a liar, to someone who lies in the face of facts?” she said.

“What does he have to say that I would be interested in?” she added.

>> On Rare.us: Sgt. La David Johnson’s mom claims Trump 'did disrespect' her son

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said he “wouldn’t be honest with [himself]” if he attends the SOTU, so he has also decided to boycott it.

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Florida boy dies of rabies after bat scratch, school officials say

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 1:41 AM

Bat in tree (stock photo). (Photo credit: Henry ... / Freeimages.com)
Henry ... / Freeimages.com
Bat in tree (stock photo). (Photo credit: Henry ... / Freeimages.com)(Henry ... / Freeimages.com)

A young boy died of rabies after being scratched by a bat, according to Christian Academy school officials in Eustis, Florida.

>> Watch the news report here

The school posted about the boy’s death on its website, saying that he attended the school in 2016.

The post said Ryker Roque “was a quiet boy adored by teachers and classmates.”

Henry Roque, Ryker's father, took a video of the two on a fishing trip and said they were as close as father and son could be. 

He shared pictures and videos of his son with WFTV to share with the world how much he loved his son.

As Ryker underwent an experimental procedure for the rabies infection, Henry held out hope, even as doctors told the family he had virtually no chance of surviving. 

>> Read more trending news 

"I've seen huge miracles before. And I went back on the bed and laid with him and held him and said, 'Ryker, miracles happen every day. I know you hear me,'" Henry said. 

Several weeks ago, Henry said he found a sick bat, which he did not know had rabies, and put it in a bucket, telling Ryker not to touch it.

But Ryker did touch it and was scratched by the bat – but seemed fine, school officials said.

A week later, the child lost use of his legs and “experienced confusion,” having hallucinations and convulsions.

Ryker was hospitalized and an experimental treatment was used, but he died Sunday.

>> On WFTV.com: Florida teacher donates kidney to student's mother

The school held a fundraiser to help the family with medical expenses.

"He was a very sweet boy. Everything he did was nice. The kids loved to play with him because he was the kindest kid," said Connor Jenkins, with the Christian Academy preschool. 

GoFundMe account was also set up for the family. 

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WATCH: Firefighter catches child thrown from burning building

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 1:13 AM

A man dropped the child from the third floor. (Credit: DeKalb County Fire and Rescue)
DeKalb County Fire and Rescue
A man dropped the child from the third floor. (Credit: DeKalb County Fire and Rescue)(DeKalb County Fire and Rescue)

Incredible video captured firefighters rescuing a child from a burning building in DeKalb County, Georgia.

>> Click here to watch

The helmet camera video, posted by DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, was taken at the Avondale Forest Apartments on Jan. 3.

The video shows a person on top of a ladder drop a child down to a firefighter as the flames roar around them.

The firefighter catches the child and quickly runs to safety. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

"Third-generation DCFR firefighter Capt. Scott Stroup can be seen catching one of the children that was dropped from the third-floor balcony. Great job by all hands operating on this fire as several lifesaving grabs were made that night," the department posted on Facebook.

An estimated 50 people were left without a place to live after the massive fire at the Decatur apartment complex.

Capt. Eric Jackson, with DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, told WSB-TV that four adults and eight children were hurt in the fire.

>> Read more trending news 

He said their injuries were minor and mostly related to smoke inhalation.

Firefighters kicked in doors and ushered out residents when they arrived on the scene, Jackson said. 

One of the victims told WSB-TV's Steve Gehlbach hearing the screams coming from the people trapped was the most frightening part of the fire for them.

“Jumping out of the building. Jumping out of their balconies. Someone said they threw their baby outside and fireman caught the baby,” they said.

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Texas man charged in plot to kill players, fans during Steelers game

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 9:59 AM

Yuttana Choochongkol. (Photo: Bexar County Sheriff's Office)
Yuttana Choochongkol. (Photo: Bexar County Sheriff's Office)

There was a slight scare ahead of Sunday’s Steelers game at Heinz Field after police arrested a man who allegedly threatened to kill players and fans at the game.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities arrested Yuttana Choochongkol, 40, who is from San Antonio, in Texas.

Investigators said the man made several threats online, sending them to the director of security at Heinz Field.

“The Steelers game will be packed, and that's when I plan on killing Steelers football players and fans before taking my own pitiful life," Choochongkol wrote.

The Steelers issued a statement regarding the threats. 

“We take all threats seriously and turned over information to the FBI and the City of Pittsburgh police,” said spokesman Burt Lauten. “We are thankful law enforcement was able to identify and track down the individual to make an arrest."