Over a Million Washington Residents Participate in World’s Largest Earthquake Drill

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

On Thursday (October 20th), more than 1.3 million Washington residents participated in what has been dubbed the world’s largest earthquake drill. 

According to MyNorthwest, the annual worldwide Great Shakeout earthquake drill was conducted at 10:20 PDT. The goal of the annual event is to help save lives from a quake. This is done by doing the “drop, cover, and hold” method. Participants do this by taking cover under desks, tables, or other sturdy items. Millions of people around the world, including Washington residents, participate in the earthquake drill. 

Schools in Washington used the annual event as their October monthly emergency drill. The drill was kicked off when the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is activated. The message was aired by all radio and TV broadcasters. Much like a fire drill, Washington residents were told to do the “drop, cover, and hold” for about a minute. 

The media outlet then noted that the Great Shakeout drill provides the opportunity for Washington residents to practice their backup communication plan. 

Meanwhile, the annual Great Shakeout drill occurred weeks after Washington and Oregon residents felt a magnitude 4.4 quake. A total of 4,400 people reported feeling it.

FEMA Region 3 Administrator, MaryAnn Tierney also spoke about the annual earthquake event. “Damaging earthquakes can occur at any time – where we work, live, or travel. We are once again excited to participate in the annual Great ShakeOut drill with our state, local, and community partners not only in our region but across the world.” 

Tierney added that the GreatShakeOut is considered an excellent opportunity to practice and prepare for earthquakes. “A hazard that can impact millions of people at a moment’s notice.” 

Washington Residents Have Experienced More than 4,300 Earthquakes Over the Past Year 

According to AllQuakes.com, Washington residents have experienced more than 4,300 earthquakes over the past year. On Saturday (October 22nd), it was actually reported that a 1.8 magnitude quake was felt west of Entiat, Washington. This event happened around 1 a.m. The shaking intensity was noted to be “very weak shaking” but still felt. 

GovTech also reports that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has stated that in the next 50 years, most of the state’s populated areas have a 40%-50% chance of experiencing a large earthquake. 

Mouse Reusch, ShakeAlert Regional Coordinator shared more details in an email. “Washington sits where two plates come together, giving us the potential of large offshore earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone as well as the possibility of deeper earthquakes such as the 2001 Nisqually earthquake that caused shaking up and down the I-5 corridor from the southern Puget Sound region. We also have several faults near the surface that produce shaking such as earthquakes in the past few years near Bremerton and Monroe.”