Statewide earthquake drill shakes up preparedness plan

October 23, 2012

Tina Eggers (left), city clerk, Megan Gregor, city passport and records specialist, and Mary Lorna Meade, city risk management officer, take shelter under desks at Issaquah City Hall at 10:18 a.m. Oct. 18. By Greg Farrar

Staffers flooded from Issaquah City Hall and other municipal buildings at 10:18 a.m. Oct. 18 as employees joined a statewide earthquake drill.

The preparedness exercise involved public employees throughout the city, plus residents throughout the city and state, as planners tested residents’ ability to respond to a temblor.

The city official responsible for disseminating information to the public during emergencies, Communications Coordinator Autumn Monahan, said frequent disaster preparedness exercises educate city employees about the proper procedures to follow in worst-case scenarios.

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Minor 2.8 earthquake rattles Tiger Mountain neighborhood

August 23, 2011

The ground beneath Tiger Mountain rumbled early Aug. 18, as a minor earthquake rattled the Mirrormont neighborhood.

Seismologists recorded a magnitude-2.8 earthquake just before 1 a.m. about a mile beneath the surface.

Such small earthquakes occur often. Washington experiences more than 1,000 tremors each year, although most temblors do not cause damage or even receive much notice from residents.

“Whenever there’s an earthquake it slightly raises the odds that we’ll see more earthquakes,” said John Vidale, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director and a University of Washington seismologist. “We’re not exactly sure if that’s because earthquakes are a sign of things going on or if that’s because the earthquakes trigger other earthquakes.”

The initial report from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at the UW, pegged the Mirrormont temblor as magnitude 2.3 and deeper in the earth. The magnitude is a measure of earthquake size calculated from ground motion.

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Minor earthquake rattles Mirrormont early Thursday

August 18, 2011

NEW — 6:30 a.m. Aug. 18, 2011

Seismologists recorded a magnitude-2.3 earthquake early Thursday in the Mirrormont neighborhood on Tiger Mountain.

University of Washington seismologists said the micro-earthquake occurred at 12:49 a.m., about five miles south of downtown Issaquah.

Seismologists at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at the University of Washington, said the temblor occurred 3.9 miles beneath the surface.

The seismic activity came a year after seismologists recorded other micro-earthquakes in and near Issaquah.

Such small earthquakes occur often, and do not indicate another, larger quake is imminent.

Seismologists recorded a magnitude 1.6 earthquake about three miles northeast of downtown Issaquah in July 2010. The micro-earthquake followed a magnitude 1.1 micro-earthquake centered about four miles east of the city last June. UW seismologists said another micro-earthquake, magnitude 2.6, occurred at 9:52 p.m. Sept. 3 in Mirrormont.

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Consider a seismic retrofit as earthquake insurance

April 19, 2011

Strengthening a residence through a home earthquake retrofit is as simple as ABC: anchor, brace and connect.

Most homes built in the past 30 years or so do not need a retrofit to hold steady in earthquakes, but older homes may need some foundation tune-ups. If the foundation is not secured to the rest of the structure, major damage can result from the ground shaking.

The earthquake in Japan — plus major temblors in New Zealand, Chile and Haiti in the past year — has renewed the focus on seismic safety at home.

“When the earth starts shaking sideways, the foundation moves with the earth,” Sound Seismic co-owner Leif Jackson said. “This big, massive object is not going to immediately move with the foundation. It’s going to kind of lag behind, and it’s going to lag behind when that foundation oscillates back in the opposite direction. So, the house and the foundation get out of synch, and it can get jolted off of the foundation.”

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Leaders urge emergency preparedness after Japan disaster

March 15, 2011

The unfolding disaster in Japan — unleashed after a magnitude-9 earthquake struck the island nation — has emergency planners in Issaquah reminding residents to prepare for earthquakes and other calamities.

“This tragedy overseas reminds us that our region is also at high risk from natural disasters,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “The time to prepare is before emergency strikes.”

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan in the afternoon March 11 (late March 10 in Washington and on the West Coast). The death toll could exceed 10,000 people.

The local group spearheading personal emergency preparedness is the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council, a nonprofit organization formed to prepare residents to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.

“The real basic message is: Be prepared,” council President Alan Bramwell said.

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Nisqually earthquake anniversary jolts memories

February 22, 2011

Issaquah is more prepared now than during 2001 roller

Then-Skyline High School senior Sean Edwards (left) and then-4-year-old sister Quinn leaned over to look inside the cracked asphalt Feb. 28, 2001, as dad Maury looks along a crack in the 1400 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. File

The ground started to shake as Bret Heath stood upstairs at the old municipal public works office — the steel-frame and metal-clad structure used nowadays as the parks department maintenance facility — and in seconds, the building rolled, like a ship tossed on ocean swells.

“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this building is going to hold together,’” the longtime Public Works Operations and emergency management director said.

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Minor earthquake reminds residents of seismic risks

October 12, 2010

The ground beneath the Mirrormont neighborhood rattled late Sept. 3, but residents attributed the slight rumbling to everyday occurrences — not to the magnitude 2.6 earthquake shaking the community south of Issaquah.

“At first, I thought it was a large animal rattling my garage door,” Mirrormont resident Monique Blackwell said.

Jennifer Orr, another Mirrormont resident, said she thought a large tree had toppled nearby.

“It felt as though a large truck had hit something outside,” Ray Skoff recalled.

The temblor lasted only a handful of seconds, but long enough to cause speculation before residents realized the source: earthquake.

“It felt like wood and concrete had no solidity for a minute,” Karen Skoff said.

The earthquake followed tiny temblors in the Issaquah area — a magnitude 1.6 quake July 3 and a magnitude 1.1 quake June 9.

Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the micro-earthquakes do not mean a big roller is imminent.

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Press Editorial

April 13, 2010

Earthquake drill is meant for all

Since the earthquake in Haiti, it seems like earthquakes are rattling their way around the world. Chile, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Indonesia and, most recently, Spain and the Solomon Islands have all had big rollers. Closer to home two weeks ago was a 3.8 magnitude quake in Cle Elum, just 65 miles east of here. Read more