RIVERSIDE – The Okanogan Valley is not known for being a hot earthquake zone, but Friday, Nov. 18, proved to be an exception as a magnitude 4.6 temblor rattled the area.
The quake, with an epicenter six miles northwest of Omak, five miles west-northwest of Riverside, toward Conconcully, awoke residents just after 5 a.m. Friday morning with a loud bang, followed by 10-12 seconds of relatively light shaking.
“There was virtually no damage, only one lady had a root cellar with damage in the Omak area,” said Scott Miller, director of the Okanogan County Emergency Management Department, adding, “The fire hall in Conconully showed some cracks in the masonry walls.”
Many Tonasket and Oroville area residents were awakened by the quake, several saying at first they were hearing and feeling a snowplow.
The only known damage caused by the quake in Tonasket was to some water fixtures in the North Valley Hospital.
“Some of the faucets started leaking in the new building,” said NVH support services director John Boyd. “We had to pull one out and fix a couple of others. But there was no structural damage to the buildings.”
As of Friday afternoon the Oroville Police Department said they’ve had no reports of damage. Dispatcher Brenda Rounds said she too said it sounded like a snowplow and her pet parrots started acting up prior to the quake.
Tonasket School District maintenance supervisor David Stevens said there were no reports of any damage to the schools, and Tonasket mayor Patrick Plumb said he also hadn’t received word of any problems.
There were multiple reports of feeling the quake filed on the U.S. Geological Survey web site from as far away as Spokane to the east, Moses Lake to the south, Sultan to the west and Kelowna, B.C., to the north. It was the largest earthquake to hit North Central Washington since a magnitude 4.6 hit west of Okanogan in June of 1997.
Recent earthquakes in other areas not typically subject to seismic activity were much stronger. The Washington, D.C. earthquake on Aug. 23 measured 5.8 on the Richter scale, while the central Oklahoma quake checked in at 5.6. The 5.6 quake was 10 times more powerful than Friday’s local rattler.