Did you wake up around 3 a.m. Friday? This nearby earthquake may have been why

What to do when an earthquake hits

FEMA explains what you should do before an earthquake happens and when it occurs in an animated video called "When The Earth Shakes."
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FEMA explains what you should do before an earthquake happens and when it occurs in an animated video called "When The Earth Shakes."

Many in the Puget Sound region may have been startled awake shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, July 12, by an earthquake that was centered southeast of Everett.

The epicenter of the quake, which the United States Geological Survey said had a magnitude of 4.6, was located just north of U.S. Highway 2 near the Evergreen Speedway — 2.1 miles from Monroe and approximately 63 miles from downtown Bellingham.

The temblor struck at 2:51 a.m. at a depth of 24.3 kilometers, the USGS reported.

Within 3 1/2 hours of the quake, more than 6,000 people had reported feeling it to the USGS, including many in Whatcom County and southern British Columbia.

Since the 4.6 quake, the USGS has reported nine more seismic events in the Monroe area, varying in size from 1.1 to 3.5 magnitude.

David Caruso, a USGS geophysicist, told The Seattle Times the Washington state quake was due to a thrust fault, in which one side of a fault pushed upward relative to its opposite side. Such quakes are common in the Cascade Mountain range.

The state Department of Transportation told the Associated Press that the agency would be inspecting bridges following Friday’s quake, but had no reports of damage.

According to UPSeis, “an educational website for budding seismologists” run by Michigan Tech, a 4.6 magnitude earthquake is considered to be in the “light” magnitude class — often felt, but only causing minor damage.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources reports the state has seen 15 earthquakes with magnitudes larger than 5.0 since 1870, when modern record-keeping began.

It’s been nearly three decades since Whatcom County’s last large earthquake. According to The Bellingham Herald archives and the DNR map, the last quake 5.0 or larger to be centered in Whatcom County was a 5.2 temblor in 1990 near Deming.

The most recent large one to shake the Seattle area, according to the DNR, occurred in 2001, when the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually quake happened just north of Olympia. That quake caused some injuries and widespread damage, including to the air traffic control tower at Sea-Tac Airport.

Further south along the Pacific coast, a magnitude 4.9 aftershock of last week’s Southern California earthquakes was felt widely in the region on Friday morning, AP reported. There have been thousands of aftershocks of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake on July 4 and the 7.1 quake that occurred the next day.

Caruso told The Seattle Times that the Northwest quake had no connection to the recent earthquakes in California.

What emergency supplies are you missing? Take this list and check.

From The Bellingham Herald files: John Gargett, the deputy director of Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management, offers this list for your emergency kit:

Basic assumptions:

There will not be an emergency response by Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services or Law Enforcement for an unknown time.

Individuals must be self-resilient until services are restored.

Neighborhoods are the basis for community resilience.

Basic survival kit (home, workplace, vehicles):

First aid kit;

Non-perishable food;

Plastic cup and spoon;

Matches (waterproof matches and at least one butane lighter);


Knife, such as Swiss Army, with saw blade;


Gloves, leather is best;

Hardhat (with reflective band);

Reflective vest;

Prescription medicine;

Toilet paper;

Vehicle survival kit additions:

Always fill the tank when it is half empty;

Charger for cell phone for car;

Blanket or sleeping bag;

Warm waterproof coat;

Non-perishable food;

Coloring books/toys for kids;

Change of clothes;


Tool kit.

Home survival kit additions:

Propane barbeque;

Solar cell phone/tablet charger;


Fluids (almond/soy milk, water, etc.);

Non-perishable food;

Coloring books/toys for kids;

Prescription medicine.

Know your neighbors: Meet the immediate neighbors to the front, rear, side, up and down (for apartments/condos) and learn their capabilities, needs and expectations. Map your neighborhood. Know who has first aid training, belongs to a Community Emergency Response Team or operates a ham radio.

Think about your kids: Get a copy of, and read, school and college emergency plans. Prepare your children for a disaster occurring when you are not there and know how you will communicate with your kids.

Workplace survival kit additions:

Water/fluid stored under desk;

Non-perishable food;

Prescription medicine.

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David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.