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Pacific Northwest Has the Highest Risk of Catastrophic Waves

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Scientists warn that the Pacific Northwest is most vulnerable to devastating tsunamis.

Scientists predict that the coast of the Pacific Northwest will see a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Imagine an event that has never before struck the modern United States of America in order to prepare for this calamity.

Diego Melgar, a seismologist at the University of Oregon, stated, “We didn’t even know that big earthquakes were possible in the Pacific Northwest 30 or 40 years ago.”

The 700-mile Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches from Northern California to Vancouver Island, has the potential to cause a tsunami and an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude, akin to the 2011 disaster in Japan. The zone is separated into three to five segments, each with its own distinct geology, according to new imaging published in “Science Advances.” There is the greatest chance of a catastrophic earthquake in the area off the coast of Washington.

Unprepared Infrastructure:

Nothing constructed before 2005 can withstand the predicted earthquake, according to Corina Allen, chief hazards scientist at the Washington Geological Survey, and tsunami construction rules weren’t put into place until 2016. “All of this infrastructure—bridges, buildings, hospitals, schools—is situated in areas where a tsunami could strike,” Allen stated. When questioned if these facilities could withstand such an incident, she replied, “The answer is no.”

Portland State University senior adviser Yumei Wang emphasized the weakness of wood-frame, masonry, and brick buildings. She remarked, “You can just imagine water pushing over a typical house.”

Timely and Strategic Planning:

These massive earthquake and tsunami catastrophes happen, on average, every 500 years, according to historical data. The exact timing is uncertain, but it might occur in the next 200 years or even sooner. Although retrofitting neighborhoods will be an expensive and time-consuming operation, Melgar stressed the significance of the endeavor. If we’re doing this right, we’re in for a very long game, he remarked.

Difficulties with Evacuation:

After an earthquake, coastal residents and visitors must get to high ground as soon as possible to survive. Many, nevertheless, are not close to high ground in the tsunami zone of Washington. Critical are the vertical evacuation shelters that in 2011 saved thousands of lives in Japan. There are just three in the Pacific Northwest at the moment, and four more are planned, but according to Allen, 50 are required in Washington alone.

Putting Money Into Preparation:

It is unclear if people are willing to spend billions of dollars on preparations for an event that might not happen for 200 years, given how expensive they are. “Solving this problem is expensive,” Allen remarked. Melgar thinks that the damage need not be disastrous, though, if there are appropriate building rules, early warning systems, and tsunami evacuation zones.

There is no doubt about the urgency, but it is unclear when. Scientists emphasize that in order to safeguard future generations, action must be taken immediately.

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