Magnitude 4.9 earthquake recorded off Vancouver Island, days before B.C. ShakeOut drills

Magnitude 4.9 earthquake recorded off Vancouver Island, days before B.C. ShakeOut drills
Photo: Earthquakes Canada

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Vancouver Island Sunday night, but it wasn’t felt, and no tsunami was expected, says Earthquakes Canada.

The quake, located 50.86° North and 130.25° West, had a depth of 10 km when it was recorded at 8:13 p.m. It was about 203 km west of Port Hardy and 368 km west of Campbell River.

“There are no reports of damage, and none would be expected,” according to Earthquakes Canada in a post on its website.

Earthquake Preparedness

The quake was just days before The Great British Columbia ShakeOut, which is happening Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m. That’s when people will “Drop, Cover and Hold On” for a few minutes during earthquake drills.

“While potential earthquake hazards depend on your location, everywhere in British Columbia is considered at high risk in relation to the rest of Canada,” states information on the B.C. ShakeOut website.

“For example, on January 26, 1700, a magnitude 9 earthquake (similar to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off the coast of Japan) shook the entire province as well as Washington, Oregon, and California, and generated a massive tsunami.”

Each year, millions of people participate in ShakeOut drills worldwide.

About 700,000 people took part in last year’s B.C. ShakeOut, which is organized annually by the British Columbia Earthquake Alliance. It says it’s “our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes.”

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Municipalities across the Island are encouraging people to participate in the ShakeOut, including the City of Victoria, which says people can sign up online.

“Victoria has a one-in-three probability of a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years, and we need to be prepared,” it says. “The Great British Columbia ShakeOut is an annual opportunity to practise how to be safer during big earthquakes.”

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The District of Saanich says once people participate in the drill, they should prioritize updating their emergency plan, emergency kit and grab-and-go bags.

“It’s important for residents to understand when to evacuate and when to shelter in place,” said Erin Stockill, Saanich’s emergency program officer, in a news release.

“After an earthquake, if it is safe to stay where you are, do so and ‘shelter in place,’ otherwise exit slowly and safely, watching for hazards such as broken glass. Don’t forget your grab-and-go bag!”

The City of Campbell River, meanwhile, says a major earthquake could happen on the Island at any moment, “and a potential John Hart Dam or Strathcona Dam failure exists until BC Hydro completes planned seismic upgrades.”

Once the upgrades project is complete by 2030, the dam will be able to withstand a major earthquake and safely pass water downstream after the event has taken place, according to BC Hydro.

“Downtown Campbell River is especially at risk, which makes this exercise important for anyone who frequents the downtown core,” said the city.

More information about the B.C. ShakeOut is here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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