Preparing for Earthquakes in Central Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Preparing for Earthquakes in Central Washington

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YAKIMA, Wash. -

The world's largest earthquake drill called The Great Shakeout happens tomorrow. Many in the Yakima Valley... and the entire state of Washington, no less, may be a bit unfamiliar with how to prepare for an earthquake. For those of us that aren't, The Great Shakeout encourages businesses and other public locations to partake in a brief earthquake drill.

When it comes to earthquakes the best thing anyone can do is prepare. Geological and disaster experts both agree while large earthquakes aren't as big of a worry on the eastern side of the state. We could still be in a lot of trouble if we're not ready.

They say it's only a matter of time...

The pacific northwest is at risk for another earthquake...Tim Melbourneee of central Washington university says the chances of one happening in the future are probable.

"We know it's been about 315 years since the last one... We have one of the world's most dangerous faults off of the coast of Washington state... Most of our seismic risk in the state is focused on the west side... but that said, there is a non zero risk here... " says Melbourn

Studies over the last several months have raised attention to the possibility of an earthquake happening in the Cascadia Subduction Zone that could affect much of western Washington and Oregon.

"We've had earthquakes before... We've had them in Cle Elum. We've had them all around here. In 1872, we had a very large one near Wenatchee... A magnitude 7." continues Melbourn

And although the Yakima valley is miles away from the most at risk areas, many problems that stem from an earthquake can happen with a mass influx of evacuees.

"We could see thousands of people leaving the Seattle area. Their logical place to go is the city of Yakima because we've got a lot of good infrastructure... Our airport could be a major logistic center for resources coming in." says City of Yakima emergency management specialist Charles Erwin.

An earthquake may not happen right away, but while we wait, being ready is the best we can do.

And tomorrow is that chance to be ready... The Great Shake Out happens at 10.15 am. Over 21,000 Yakima citizens are taking part in the drill.

You can register or find a participating location at