My experience Friday at Ground Zero of an earthquake

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By Chuck Woodbury
ROADSIDE JOURNAL
Little did I know when I went to bed Thursday night in a campground near Snohomish, Washington, that a few hours later my motorhome would be shaking like it were in an earthquake!

Actually, it was in an earthquake! It measured 4.6 on the Richter scale — not a huge one by any means. But, it was big to me because it happened almost literally 14 miles directly beneath me — that’s actually fairly shallow. I was within a mile or two of Ground Zero when it struck at 2:51 a.m. Friday morning. I have never been so close to an earthquake before. In the illustration below, my campsite was in the red circle.

I’ve been through too many earthquakes in my life to count, but most were miles away, and all I experienced was some shaking, but no damage. One was strong enough that the sidewalk outside my home buckled, like the ground was made of jello. I felt some motion sickness on that one.

The one last night got some media coverage, but with the more serious ones happening in Southern California, a 4.6 event isn’t big news.


What some people around the Northwest worried about last night was that the rumbling was caused by one of our stately volcanoes — Mt. Rainier, in particular (it wasn’t). When that magnificent Cascade peak blows again (as it surely will) it will wipe out tens of thousands of Seattle-area homes; many will be buried in the volcano’s historical mudslide flow. When Mt. St. Helens blew in southern Washington in 1980, it devastated a mostly rural area, with little damage to property or life.

I know that people who have never experienced an earthquake can have a huge fear of one. But when you’ve been through dozens in your life with no harm, you lose that fear. I went right back to sleep last night. No big deal.

If you heard about the earthquake yesterday, I’m happy to report that our staff survived with no ill effects. Hey, we’re rugged, tough, Northwesterners. It takes more than a little shaking to scare us. That said, I think I speak for many of my neighbors when I say we are terrified of tornadoes!


4 COMMENTS

  1. I was in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1964 on a DTY assignment with the US Air Force and survived a 9.4 earthquake. Do not recommend that experience for anyone else. The aftershocks were scary also.

  2. When I lived in CA I would walk into the secretary’s office and tell her we just had an earthquake. I would get an upset stomach and nausea when they happened anywhere around. A little while later they would announce on the radio there was an earthquake 10 miles offshore, in the desert, etc. When living in MT would feel them from Yellowstone area.

    Only one time was I driving when one hit…that is the weirdest feeling. You have no control over the vehicle, step on the brake and you still move.

  3. This reminds me of the funny earthquake I went through when I was in high school. This was in Oakland, CA, which has a fault line running through it. My buddy and I were in a movie, watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Tom, the cat, was hiding around a corner, looking for the mouse. He was crouched down with his tail lying along the floor. Jerry, the mouse, sneaked up behind him with a big mallet. Just as he smashed the cat’s tail with the mallet, the whole theater shook. You couldn’t have timed it better. People screamed and ran out the doors, but my buddy and I just stood back against the projection room wall and laughed.

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