The Seattle area experiences three earthquake types with three very different consequences. Intense shaking occurs near the epicenter but usually diminishes quickly with distance relative to the other earthquake types. These older brick buildings tend to be concentrated in areas expected to experience the strongest ground motion during earthquakes. Seattle has an estimated 819 Seattle unreinforced masonry buildings that perform poorly in earthquakes. A large Seattle Fault earthquake could trigger a 16 foot tsunami that would strike the Seattle shoreline within seconds of the earthquake and flood it within 5 minutes. With transportation down, supplies are going to be tight. Goetz recommends that residents keep a 7-to-10-day supply of food, water and essentials in case of a major earthquake, along with some supplies at work and in their car.

Building codes are also lacking, and with Seattle’s building boom, there are plenty of high rises going up that could be unuseable after a quake. A megathrust earthquake could reach M 9.0+ and affect an area from Canada to northern California.
The 2001 Nisqually Earthquake resulted in damage to City of Seattle buildings, infrastructure and response costs that exceeded $20 million. Unlike other potentially catastrophic hazards, Seattle has had and will experience powerful earthquakes. Although megathrust and deep earthquakes will not directly cause tsunamis in Seattle these sources could initiate landslides that result in local tsunamis. While many bridges have been retrofitted to deal with the effects of an earthquake, hundreds are still vulnerable.

Shallow quakes are the type expected on the Seattle Fault zone, which is the primary but not only source for shallow quakes in Seattle.
Shaking in Seattle would be violent and prolonged, but not as intense as a Seattle Fault quake.

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