Further thoughts on the Northwest Megaquake-Tsunami Risk.

There was more fallout from the New Yorker Magazine story “…everything west of the I-5 is toast” controversy.  I was going to post a video from RAW which showed TV news coverage on the Northwest Megaquake-Tsunami Risk, but the video is blocked.  My original post on the subject is here.   On the RAW video, the Fox News segment with Shepard Smith verges on disaster porn.  The RT segment is, to use a familiar phrase, more fair and balanced.  We do have the Banda Aceh 9.2 Earthquake-10 Meter Tsunami to use for comparison.  People in the effected areas  do need to think about preparing for these events; what we don’t need is hysteria.

When a comment is made like, “everything west of the I-5 is toast,”  I become skeptical.  I know something about the area in question.  In 1999, after completing a trip across Western Canada, I reentered the United States at Sumas, Washington.  I picked up the I-5 at Bellingham.  I drove the I-5 from Bellingham to the Vacaville Cutoff north of Sacramento, California,  I travelled the rest of the way home through San Francisco, and along the coast on Routes 1 and the 101.  Based on that experience, I thought the statement that “…everything west of the I-5 is toast…”  was pretty farfetched, even applied to just Washington State.  So I consulted both my Rand McNally Road Maps and my  Hammond’s World Atlas, 6th Ed.


We can dismiss inland southern Oregon and all of inland Northern California from any claims of danger east of  the Coast Mountains.   The I-5 in both areas are east of the Coast Mountain Range.  A 35 foot Tsunami is not going to overtake a 3500 foot mountain.  The coastline and beaches in the area are another matter and are very much at risk.

The Coast Mountain Range runs parallel to the i-5 all the way up the Coast from California to Seattle.  There is a gap west of  Tacoma, Olympia, and the southern most corner of Seattle.  That  region  might be a source for concern, but it is also well inland.  I doubt very much that Seattle or Portland, Oregon are in danger of destruction from  a 10 meter Tsunami such as was generated in   Banda Aceh.  In the British Channel 4 Program Tsunami,  the German tourists in Thailand escaped the Tsunami by following the Thai natives up into the hills.  The hills in Thailand are not as steep as are the Coast Mountains.  Some of the tourists who stayed at high rise hotels were able to survive by moving up to the top floors.  The program also showed that in Banda Aceh, the large mosque survived the Tsunami.

The main point to be drawn from Banda Aceh is that when you see the tide go out along the shoreline, run for the hills.  Go as quickly as possible to high ground.  Next week, I hope at long last to write about the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

Height Chart via Wikipedia

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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