Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Emergency Preparedness

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Above: Tsunami wave simulation for Washington State from a hypothetical magnitude 9.0 earthquake (L1) scenario on the Cascadia subduction zone. Developed by Washington Geological Survey hazard geologists.

Increasing funding for geologic hazards research is a top NPI legislative priority.


It’s become our new reality… I don’t like to say “normal,” because that sounds like a plateau, and we’re on a trajectory where we’ll get more and more fire.

— Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland science at the University of Alberta (Canada’s wildfire season is off to a ferocious start – The Washington Post)

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America has a flooding problem it can’t manage. Vermont’s experience shows a possible way forward.

Nearly ten years ago, Ryan Blitstein wrote an excellent article for Miller-McCune (now The Pacific Standard) looking at America’s problem with flooding. For decades, government at every level has tried to keep floodwaters at bay with levees, but the result has been even worse floods. However, as Blitstein explains, Vermont has come up with some unconventional ideas that have the potential to work a lot better, including designating areas near rivers as floodways where construction is restricted and purchasing river channel management rights from farmers.

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Why Seattle geology makes earthquakes worse

“Mexico City and Seattle have a lot in common when it comes to earthquakes. One example, the soil the cities sit on can actually amplify the effects and length of the shaking. KING5’s Glenn Farley is here to talk about what that means for us here in the Pacific Northwest.”

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Why Mexico is at the epicenter of the month’s most prominent natural disasters

“September has, in one sense, been an unlucky month for Mexico. But there are few places on the planet besides Mexico where the bad luck of a severe earthquake and a hurricane might actually converge,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump explains.

Hurricane Irma roars through Florida

This National Weather Service radar mosaic shows Hurricane Irma’s movement through Florida and into Georgia. Irma first made landfall in the Keys before moving up Florida’s west coast. The storm is now a Category 1 hurricane, but still very dangerous. (NOAA/NWS animation)

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I-84 closure an important reminder that the private depends on the public

Interstate 84, Oregon’s main east-west link, is closed indefinitely in stretches between Hood River and The Dalles due to the Eagle Creek Fire and unstable slopes produced by the fire. That’s hurting truckers like David Cassidy, whose livelihood is made possible by the availability of public infrastructure paid for by taxpayers.

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Texas Republicans lobbied against imposition of safety rules on chemical plant that exploded

“The French company that says its Houston-area chemical plant is spewing ‘noxious’ smoke — and may explode — successfully pressed federal regulators to delay new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times.”


5.0 magnitude quake rumbles Oklahoma oil town of Cushing, nearby region

A strong earthquake has caused serious damage in the central Oklahoma oil town of Cushing, which is home to the United States’ largest commercial oil storage hub.

The Oklahoman has an extensive report on the quake which fails to mention that there is research linking quakes in the state to fracking.

The BBC, however, circled back to its earlier reporting on the subject when it carried the news of the Cushing tremblor:

There have been 19 earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past week, according to data provided by the US Geological Survey.

In September, a magnitude 5.6 quake in the state fuelled concerns that seismic activity in the area was connected to energy production.

In 2013, scientists linked the underground injection of oil drilling wastewater to a magnitude-5.7 earthquake that struck Oklahoma in 2011.

An immediate moratorium on fracking ought to be imposed in Oklahoma — and everywhere else — for safety and environmental reasons.

Sadly, in many areas, the right wing controls the government and has no interest in putting people or the planet ahead of oil industry profits.

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Seaside’s crumbling schools: Infrastructure woes add to tsunami fears

“It’s one thing to hear about the crumbling condition of Seaside’s high school, middle school and Gearhart Elementary School. It’s another to take a tour and see them firsthand,” writes The Daily Astorian’s RJ Marx, beginning a report on the appalling, abysmal conditions of the Oregon coastal city’s schools.

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Pacific Northwest could see monster windstorm this Saturday, after warmup windstorm tomorrow

A series of storms are headed towards the Pacific Northwest — and one could be a devastating event that will be “long remembered”, the National Weather Service warns.

Hurricane Matthew batters Florida

Hurricane Matthew is seen on the National Weather Service’s composite radar mosaic. (Image: NWS)

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‘We should be screaming’ with outrage: Washington State doing little to protect schoolkids from earthquakes, tsunamis

The Seattle Times reports on Washington’s failure to seismically retrofit public schools and ensure schoolchildren in tsunami hazard zones have a way to get to higher ground.



We can’t do any work right now… The phones work, but the computers don’t. And attorneys are pretty much helpless without their computers.

— Barbara Serrano, a prosecutor with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, describing the impact that a major, hour-long outage in downtown Seattle had on her workplace. City Light has since restored power by fixing broken equipment.

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Horrific Fort McMurray fire spreads to 85,000 hectares; thousands stranded to be airlifted

“Authorities prepared to airlift thousands of people stranded in camps north of Fort McMurray as officials warned that the fire engulfing the region will continue to grow amid strong winds,” The Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

Fleeing Fort McMurray

This striking image depicts the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alberta, a community of more than 80,000 people. The entire municipality was ordered to empty as one of the worst fires in Canadian history threatened to consume the city and its environs. Fleeing residents passed very close to the fire on their way out of danger on Highway 63.

Cadillac Hotel earthquake damage, 2001

On February 28th, 2001, Washington State and the Puget Sound region were rocked by one of the biggest earthquakes in the recorded history of the Pacific Northwest: the Nisqually earthquake, which struck at 10:54:32 Pacific Time. The intraslab quake had a moment magnitude of 6.8 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). This photo shows the damage the quake caused to the Cadillac Hotel in downtown Seattle. (Item 113523, Fleets and Facilities Department Imagebank Collection/Record Series 0207-01, Seattle Municipal Archives.)

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The Flooding of America

The New Republic offers a chronology of major floods in America going back to the publication’s founding, complete with stories from its archives chronicling the wake of each.


The sad thing is, I can tell you absolutely that immediately following the next big earthquake, after these old buildings fall down, there will be legislation passed to address this issue… We shouldn’t have to wait for a lot of people to be killed or injured to motivate us to take action.

— Eric Holdeman, former director of King County’s Office of Emergency Management, calling for the city, state, and region to be proactive in retrofitting buildings before the next big quake hits (via The Seattle Times).

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The New Yorker takes notice of earthquake science that suggests the Pacific Northwest could be in grave danger

The words Cascadia Subduction Zone may be meaningless to most Americans, but Northwesterners familiar with the most recent earthquake science know that it portends bad news for our region. The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schultz explains that we’re due for a major earthquake that could unleash devastation on our coast and wipe out much of our urban infrastructure.


Washington State Ferries wishes to apologize for the downsizing you experienced this evening, May 8, when the Tacoma went out of service on the Bainbridge route and we moved the Issaquah to provide needed service. We understand that it is Mother’s Day weekend, a very special time, and we will return to three boat service on this route as quickly as possible. If the Tacoma is not repaired, we will use the Evergreen State as the third boat on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route so Mother’s Day plans can be kept.

Washington State Department of Transportation bulletin