Reality of a mega quake on the Juan de Fuca fault would equal multiple Katrinas, and for some the best plan is to run

Mathew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Important Takeaways:

  • A Disaster the Size of Multiple Katrinas Is Building Off Washington’s Coast
  • 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
  • The offshore Juan de Fuca Plate, is what’s left of a continent-sized plate that has for the past 200 million years been intermittently sliding under the larger North American Plate, an actual continent, in a process called subduction
  • The Washington coast is the likeliest target zero for the next megaquake and tsunami.
  • The sliding-under movement of subduction is very different from the side-to-side grinding of the San Andreas Fault to the south. There, frequent movements, experienced as earthquakes, release tectonic tension before it builds to catastrophic levels. Along the Subduction Zone, however, this tension builds for hundreds of years and releases with explosive force. When the Juan de Fuca Plate jams farther under the North American Plate, it will push it up 30 feet or more and displace vast quantities of seawater. And a tsunami will be born.
  • The last Cascadia earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 9.0, occurred around 9 p.m. on Jan. 26, 1700, a date known precisely thanks to meticulous Japanese records…
  • They’ve now identified more than 40 earthquakes along the subduction zone in the past 10,000 years, nearly all in the 8.2 to 9.2 magnitude range — one every 240 years on average
  • The smallest had an estimated magnitude of 7.5, the same as the devastating recent quake in Turkey and Syria.
  • “Megaquakes” of 8.7-plus magnitude, capable of generating large tsunamis, have averaged 430-year intervals.
  • Five appear to have reached the magnitude (9.1) of Japan’s 2011 Tōhoku (Fukushima) Earthquake and the 2004 Sumatran quake whose tsunami killed 228,000 people in 11 countries.
  • After 323 quiet years, another could strike anytime.
  • According to new draft data from that agency, 112,555 residents of the four counties lining Washington’s ocean coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca live in the inundation zone — land that tsunami waves will overrun.
  • Earlier benchmarks suggest that 23 percent will be unable to reach higher ground in time and 18 percent — perhaps 20,000 people, more than 10 times the number who died in Katrina — will be washed out to sea or crushed by debris.
  • These estimates don’t account for the tens of thousands of tourists and nonresident workers who would likely be in the area if the tsunami struck during the day, or the 63,000 inundation-zone residents zone along Puget Sound and the inner straits, or an estimated 1,100 people across the region who would die in the initial shaking.

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North Korea fires four missiles toward Japan, angering Tokyo and South Korea

A woman walks past a television broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing ballistic missiles, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea,

By Ju-min Park and Kaori Kaneko

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as preparation for war.

South Korea’s military said the missiles were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which can reach the United States. They flew on average 1,000 km (620 miles) and reached an altitude of 260 km (160 miles).

Some landed as close as 300 km (190 miles) from Japan’s northwest coast, Japan’s Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said in Tokyo.

The United States and Japan have requested a United Nations Security Council meeting on the launches, which will likely be scheduled for Wednesday, diplomats said.

The U.S. military on Monday left open the possibility of additional launch attempts.

“There were four that landed. There may be a higher number of launches that we’re not commenting on. But four landed and splashed in the Sea of Japan,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told a news briefing.

Condemning the launches as further “provocative behavior,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters the United States was taking steps to enhance defense against ballistic missiles, including deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea.

South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn said Seoul would swiftly deploy the anti-missile system despite angry objections from China. A U.S. official said the system could be installed far earlier than an original fall target date.

Japan also plans to reinforce its missile defenses and is considering buying either THAAD or building a ground-based version of the Aegis system deployed on warships.

Beefed-up missile defense is among economic and military options being weighed in a White House review of policy toward nuclear-armed North Korea expected to be completed in coming weeks, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said “strong protests” had been lodged with North Korea, which has carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

“It is an extremely dangerous action,” Abe told parliament.

The missiles were launched from the Tongchang-ri region near North Korea’s border with China, South Korean military spokesman Roh Jae-cheon told a briefing, but said it was too early to say what their relatively low altitude indicated.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told Reuters there were no indications so far that North Korea had tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

Shortly before taking office, President Donald Trump tweeted “It won’t happen!” in January after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the North was close to testing an ICBM.

“We deplore the continued violation of Security Council resolutions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the most recent launches of ballistic missiles. The DPRK leadership should refrain from further provocations and return to full compliance with its international obligations,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that China, which is holding its annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, had noted North Korea’s action.

“All sides should exercise restraint and not do anything to irritate each other to worsen regional tensions,” Geng said, referring to both the missile launches and U.S.-South Korean military exercises.


North Korea had threatened to take “strong retaliatory measures” after South Korea and the United States began annual joint military drills on Wednesday that test their defensive readiness against possible aggression from the North.

North Korea criticizes the drills and has previously conducted missile launches to coincide with them.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam warned that “the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war” due to the military drills.

Ja again requested that the Security Council meet to discuss the drills. Previous such requests have gone unanswered by the Security Council. The letter did not mention North Korea’s missile launches on Monday.

Last year, North Korea fired a long-range rocket from Tongchang-ri that put an object into orbit. The United Nations condemned that launch for violating resolutions banning the use of ballistic missile technology.

North Korea test-fired a new type of missile into the sea last month and has said it would continue to launch new strategic weapons.

Trump’s national security team is reviewing a wide range of options to counter the missile threat. But an administration official played down the prospects for any direct military action, such as pre-emptive missile strikes on North Korean launch sites or reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea, as highlighted in recent news reports.

Instead, the focus is expected to be on imposing new sanctions on North Korea and pressing China to do more to rein in Pyongyang, the official said. Previous administrations have made similar efforts but have failed to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile advances.

The United States withdrew nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991 before the rival Koreas signed a declaration on denuclearization of the peninsula. North Korea walked away from the agreement, citing the threat of invasion by the United States.

North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test last September. State media said after that test Pyongyang had used a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a ballistic missile.

(Additional reporting by Christine Kim and James Pearson in Seoul, Tim Kelly in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Phil Stewart, David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by James Dalgleish)