Green Lake After the 1949, 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake

August 6, 2015 7:22am

Crack_in_pathway_at_Green_Lake_from_1949_earthquake_April_13_1949 copy

Recently it seems that much of Seattle is abuzz with the possibility that a massive shaker that may be in our future. The recent New Yorker article (July 20, 2015) seems to have awakened a new awareness that an earthquake will inevitably hit Seattle, at some time.

A photo from 1949 showing earthquake damage to the shore of Green Lake reminds us that the Pacific Northwest has always been prone to such natural occurrences.

According to HistoryLink.org, “On April 13, 1949 at 11:55 a.m., a 7.1 magnitude earthquake occurred in Western Washington centered between Olympia and Tacoma. As of 2002, this is the largest earthquake in Puget Sound since non-Indian people started to immigrate and settle along its shores… Earthquake damage in King County communities varied significantly. …. In King County, the quake’s strongest ground shaking was in Auburn, Richmond Beach and in parts of Seattle. Damage was considerable to well-built structures and extensive to poorly built ones. Some buildings collapsed. Chimneys, factory stacks, columns, and monuments fell. Heavy furniture overturned. People had difficulty driving…. Due to old construction and unstable ground most buildings in Pioneer Square received some damage. Cracks opened in the earth near Green Lake. One thousand and nine hundred brick walls throughout the city collapsed, fractured or bulged. They were condemned and had to be replaced… Cracks opened in the ground, some spouting water six feet high. Seattle gas lines broke in 100 places but fortunately no fires occurred. Books toppled off Seattle Public Library shelves at the Carnegie downtown branch at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Madison Street.”

So, while we can’t look into a crystal ball and predict when an earthquake may occur, this is a timely reminder that we should always have an emergency plan in place. This week Seattle.gov launched an official notification system called Alert Seattle. Their website provides some great information on not only earthquake preparedness, but also how to prepare for any possible emergency.