SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

7.7 magnitude quake grabs Ketchikan's attention

By Mary Kauffman, SitNews


October 30, 2012

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Aftershocks appear to have ceased Monday evening following the major 7.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the Queen Charlotte Islands Saturday evening at 7:04 PM Alaska Standard Time. This was Canada's strongest earthquake in more than 60 years to hit the same area. The event was approximately 170 miles south southwest of Ketchikan. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the initial quake was centered 123 miles south-southwest of Prince Rupert, Canada at a depth of 6.2 miles.

jpg 7.7 magnitude quake grabs Ketchikan's attention

The red circles show the location of the initial 7.7 earthquake and the 7.7 and 7.1 aftershocks on Queen Charlotte Island Saturday evening. Yellow circles show aftershocks of 4.0 to 5.9. (This graphic does not include all the aftershocks.)

The Queen Charlotte Islands, which are also known by their official indigenous name of Haida Gwaii, comprise about 150 islands located north of Canada's Vancouver Island. With a total population of about 5,000, the Haida people make up about 45 percent of the population.

Within seconds of each other, the initial 7.7 followed by aftershocks of 7.7 and a 7.1, the attention of folks in Ketchikan was grabbed as windows shook, chimes jingled and homes creaked.

The initial 7.7 quake triggered tsunami warnings from Alaska, to the Washington border, and as far away as Hawaii. But the warnings were cancelled early Sunday, several hours after they were issued. A tweet from Emergency Information British Columbia said no tsunami alerts were issued for the 6.3-6.4 aftershocks Sunday morning.

Locally, SitNews issued information and alerts on the wild wild world of social media Facebook immediately as did the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad along with many Facebook users. Local radio stations and televison kept the public alerted in real-time and the U.S. National Weather Service Alaska actively issued warnings and updates in real time. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska was trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

The first U.S. warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Saturday at 7:13 p.m. AST said a tsunami was not expected. Then at 7:16 p.m. AST the center issued a new tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia from the north tip of Vancouver Island to Alaska. The tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory at about 10:30 p.m. AST for the North Coast, including Alaska and British Columbia.

As the tsunami threat diminished Saturday evening in Alaska and British Columbia, attention turned to Hawaii, where the first wave was expected to hit at around 12:28 a.m. AST. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the first tsunami wave to reach Hawaii was three feet high and less forceful than expected. Some forecasts had predicted a wave of up to six feet high.

Monday, questions were being raised about the British Columbia government's response to the weekend earthquake in the Queen Charlotte Islands after B.C. officials took nearly an hour to issue a tsunami warning following the 7.7 quake. The 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 8:04 p.m. PT Saturday, triggering tsunami alerts and advisories along the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. and as far away as Hawaii. U.S. officials sent out their first tsunami bulletin immediately after the quake at 8:13 p.m. and then upgraded it to a tsunami warning for parts of the West Coast including B.C. three minutes later.

Emergency officials in B.C. did not issue any sort of tsunami alert or advisory for another 39 minutes, leaving many civic leaders in British Columbia wondering what they were supposed to do according to CBC News of British Columbia.

Again within seconds of each other, two aftershocks of 6.3 and 6.4 were recorded Sunday morning in the area of Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada at 10:54 AM AST. By Monday evening, over 60 aftershocks had been recorded of magnitudes of 4.0 - 6.2. Following two 6.2 aftershocks approximately one mile apart at 6:49 pm AST Monday evening, only one more aftershock has been recorded -- that one a 4.7 at 8:40 pm Monday. There have been no further reports of aftershocks of 4.0 or greater in the Queen Charlotte Islands area.


Related Column:

We all survived the GREAT TSUNAMI ALERT OF 2012! By DAVE KIFFER - Nothing like a relentless wave of tsunami warnings to liven up a calm Saturday night in Our Fair Salmon City. For those of you on Mars for the past couple of days, Ketchikan experienced one of its rare “noticeable” earthquakes Saturday night. A large quake (7.7) off the southern Haida Gwaii (nee Queen Charlotte Islands) 200+ miles to the southwards caused plants to swing and couches to bounce a bit here. - MORE...
Tuesday - October 30, 2012




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