This project stems directly from another blog I have collecting stories about the Loma Prieta earthquake. As the 20th anniversary of that quake neared, I realized how much attention was being paid to it by California media, and how many places were collecting stories about Loma Prieta. It seemed that the Nisqually quake, on the other hand, had receded into the netherworld, and many people had probably forgotten that it ever happened.
The Northwest’s earthquake culture isn’t nearly as developed as California’s, but I’m hoping this blog can have a little influence in sustaining awareness of the substantial earthquake threat faced by people living between Sacramento and Alaska by invigorating memories of the Nisqually quake. Of course, if you have memories of other Northwest quakes, and want to write your story about going through one or more of them, feel free to send in that story as well.
There seems to be very little awareness of the 1949 and 1965 Puget Sound quakes, especially online, so I’ve tried to cover them a little bit as well. And Oregon’s earthquakes, most notably the rash of them that happened in 1993.
Eventually, this project might become a clearinghouse for all kinds of stories about Northwest earthquakes, dating back to the early 1900s, or earlier. Meanwhile, you can go to this page at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network for extensive information on 1793 to 1928 quakes, and this page for information on 1929 to 1970 quakes.
This project has a Facebook page, and you can go to it to become a fan, share your story there, or just drop a note. The page now features USGS notices of new earthquakes in Oregon and Washington, as does a Twitter account, NWquakes, which also shows up as a widget here.
If you’ve come here looking for multimedia on the Nisqually quake, look below. Or, I’ll refer you to this Youtube page for some videos, including a few on-the-street “EARTHQUAKE INTERVIEW 1, 2, 3” clips from the hours after the quake. Here’s some KIRO footage of the quake, with links to some King County info. on the Nisqually as well. Here’s a 9-minute video with a broad Nisqually overview and a 3 or 4-minute National Geographic video on Northwest earthquakes that starts by talking about the Nisqually.
As the 10th anniversary of the Nisqually came up, several regional newspapers provided photo galleries of the damage it did. Here’s one from the Tacoma News-Tribune, one from the Olympian, and one from the Seattle Times.
Here’s a picture of the seismographic record of the Nisqually earthquake:
And here’s a picture of damage around Seattle from the Nisqually-a lot of damage hotspots around Pioneer Square, but also in West Seattle, Interlaken, Belltown, and South Seattle near Lake Washington:
Or, if you go here, you’ll hear Dave Niehaus broadcasting at the Kingdome during the May 2, 1996 quake.
Finally, looking into the possible future: The Washington DOT has put together simulations of, first, the 520 bridge failing in an earthquake, and second, and more (in)famously, much of the Viaduct and the Elliott Bay seawall collapsing in an earthquake.
Well, I should also add that copyright to these stories belongs to the people who wrote them unless they’ve legally assigned copyright to others. If you’d like to reprint an original story on this site, whether by me, Arne Christensen, or by someone else, send an inquiry to the email address provided at the top of this site.