Seattle could be hit by 42-foot waves in three minutes with a magnitude 7.5 an earthquakepredicted a new model.
Researchers from Washington State The Department of Natural Resources found that in the city of 740,000 people, much of the city center would be under water.
The 42-foot waves will circle Seattle’s iconic Great Circle and reach inland as far as Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.
Thirty miles south of downtown, in the Port of Tacoma, waves reached three miles inland.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has produced a model that shows what might happen if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes. At right, downtown Seattle is shown with Seattle’s famous Big Wheel right below Denny Hill, right in the red zone five minutes after the earthquake. The iconic Space Needle is 10 blocks further inland and its base will also be swamped
Much of downtown Seattle, including the wheel (pictured right, below the mountain) and the base of the Space Needle (left), will be underwater
The purple area shows the water being sucked back in after the earthquake before the tsunami hits
Bruce Harrell, the mayor of Seattle, said computer models are very useful for disaster planning.
“Our primary responsibility as an administration is to keep our residents safe, and studies like this are a critical tool for analyzing data, understanding risks and predictions, and better preparing for future emergencies,” he said.
“We will continue to ensure that our Office of Emergency Management — and all of our departments — are best equipped to respond to emergencies and natural disasters, while strengthening our infrastructure and building a resilient city now and into the future.”
A tsunami evacuation sign is seen in Raymond, Washington
An earthquake will cause the purple area to sink and the red area to rise
The fault is drawn across Bainbridge Island and juts toward the city of Seattle, which is slightly to the right of the map
Seattle is located along the Seattle Fault, a series of shallow east-west faults that cross the Puget Sound lowlands and run through the city.
The fault is less dynamic than the Cascadia subduction zone, which runs for 700 miles from Cape Mendocino, California, through Oregon and Washington, and ends around Vancouver Island, Canada.
It’s also less well-known and less studied than California’s San Andreas Fault, the longest in the world. It lies between the Pacific and North American plates, stretching more than 800 miles from the Salton Sea to Cape Mendocino. San Diego, Los Angeles, and Big Sur are on the Pacific Plate, while San Francisco, Sacramento, and the Sierra Nevada are on the North American Plate.
But it is capable of causing earthquakes with devastating force.
The last known earthquake on the Seattle fault occurred about 1,100 years ago.
However, geologic records show that five additional magnitude 6.5 earthquakes have occurred in the Seattle fault zone over the past 3,500 years.
Authorities in Seattle are urging people to think about their tsunami evacuation plans
Hilary Frantz, commissioner of public lands, said people shouldn’t be fooled by the comparative anonymity of the Seattle Fault.
“Most of the time when we think about tsunamis, we think about our outer coast and the communities along the Pacific Ocean,” she said.
“But there is a long history of earthquakes on faults in Puget Sound.
“Although earthquakes and tsunamis along the Seattle Fault are less frequent than in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the impact can be massive.
“That’s why it’s so important that these communities have the information they need to prepare and respond.”
Maximilian Dixon, director of the Washington Department of Emergency Management’s hazard and coverage program, said it’s up to local residents to formulate a plan.
“Although the likelihood of this happening in our lifetime is small, it is important for families to prepare now,” he said.
“The shaking of the ground will be your warning that a tsunami is coming.
‘ Make sure you know where the nearest high ground is and the fastest route to it. Sign up for tsunami alerts and local alerts.”