SEATTLE — After a cluster of noticeable earthquakes hit the West Coast this week, experts explained what it means for the Pacific Northwest.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook Southern California July 4th, with a 5.4 aftershock Friday morning. Followed by a 7.1 quake Friday evening. 

A magnitude 5.6 took place off the coast of British Columbia Friday morning, with a 4.6 aftershock. Just before that, a 2.9 magnitude quake was recorded in Yelm.

John Vidale is a professor at USC studying seismology. He previously worked at the University of Washington, and on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

He was in his office when the July 4 quake hit.

“Noticed rustling, blinds shifting, windows rattling,” he said.

Shaking is nothing new for a researcher studying earthquakes, but neither is wondering whether the shaking will intensify.

“You can never tell if it will increase,” Vidale said. “It didn’t get to the level of knocking anything over. It was pretty mild I have to say, not very threatening at this distance.”

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Vidale said for all their effort, predicting earthquakes is still a tricky business. Generally, they said there’s a 1 in 20 chance of a bigger earthquake within about a week.

“We can’t say much more that,” he said. “If there’s another, it’s likely to be closer rather than further away, the odds diminish with time, but we can’t get more specific than that.”

That generalization proved true Friday night when a 7.1 quake struck in the same area of California. But Vidale stressed that a strong quake does not mean “The Big One” is coming.

Vidale said it’s important to note these quakes in California are not related to those in our area.

“We can measure this sort of thing. We’ve got many decades of good records of earthquakes,” he said. “And we can pretty much see they’re unrelated more than a couple of fault lengths apart.”

It is a good reminder to make sure your family is prepared both with an earthquake kit, and a plan. Join our Disaster Preparedness Facebook group here.