Why a Pacific Northwest tsunami could be even more devastating than Hurricane Katrina: report

Why a Pacific Northwest tsunami could be even more devastating than Hurricane Katrina: report
Image via Creative Commons.

Conversations about earthquake dangers in the U.S. usually focus on California, but the United States' entire West Coast is earthquake-prone — from San Diego to Portland to Seattle. Mexico's Pacific Coast is also at risk, as is British Columbia in Western Canada.

Earthquakes are conducive to tidal waves, and according to Seattle-based journalist Eric Scigliano, authorities fear that a tsunami in Washington State could be even more devastating than Hurricane Katrina — the disaster that caused severe flooding in New Orleans in 2005.

In an article published by Politico on May 7, Scigliano explains, "Someday — next week, next year, maybe next century — a sudden and deadly marine shock will strike the Northwest Coast: what locals call the Big One, a circa 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake generating tsunami surges reaching 60 feet high or more…. Even if preparations speed up, Coast Guard rescuers will face a daunting task after the Big One strikes — assuming they survive it themselves. Semper paratus — 'Always ready' — goes the Coast Guard motto. But this certain disaster of uncertain date will wash away all the Guard's preparations."

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U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Kyle Cuttie told Politico, "It's hard to say whether we’ll be first responders or victims."

Scigliano notes that a tsunami in Washington State could "inundate the coast up to an elevation of 100 feet above sea level in some spots"

"Following Hurricane Katrina," the journalist notes, "the Coast Guard rescued more than 24,135 people stranded and imperiled along the Gulf Coast and evacuated another 9409 medical patients to safety. It would likely face an even bigger challenge when what's widely expected to be, in the words of Washington's Emergency Management Division, 'the largest natural disaster ever in the United States,' strikes the Pacific Northwest."

READ MORE: How 'hydrological whiplash' brought 'deadly storms' to rain-drenched California: climate scientists

Read Politico's full report at this link.

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