Alaska Earthquake Damage - Stats/Photos/Videos of the Aftermath

Situated on the 'Ring of Fire', Alaska earthquakes are a fairly common occurrence.  However, on the morning of November 30th, 2018, South-central Alaskans were met with a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake sending schoolchildren scrambling under desks, office workers out into the streets, and some motorists navigating severely damaged roadways. Felt hundreds of miles away, even residents of Delta Junction were checking in with friends and loved ones near the Anchorage area, as the epicenter of the quake was just 13km north of the largest city in Alaska.  Social media was a flurry of posts from seemingly everyone checking in on one another and posting photos of the damage they sustained during the tremors.   One notable report from many was the sound the quake made as it took its toll on thousands of houses and businesses across the area.  The audio from both of these clips gives you a good idea of the rumble involved in an earthquake of this size.
[video width="1280" height="720" mp4=""][/video] "Worst quake I've ever been in", "I've been here 20 years and this has been the strongest I've seen", and similar messages from residents confirmed that this was the strongest earthquake this area has seen in quite some time.   Not to minimize the damage and trauma of what happened but to put it into perspective, the 1964 Alaska earthquake that rocked Alaska (also happening on a Friday, coincidentally) was more than 100 times more powerful than this one measuring a whopping 9.2 magnitude putting it at the top of the heap regarding worst earthquakes in United States history.  After surveying the damage many homeowners found damage ranging from a large mess from cabinets and drawers emptying themselves to cracks in the walls and floors, to even a few houses with significant structural damage as seen below alaska earthquake alaska earthquake alaska earthquake Photo courtesy of Rebecca Voris alaska earthquake   alaska earthquake The house used to be two stories before the Alaska earthquake caused it to drop 20 feet and split in half. Photo courtesy Real Property Management Along with the severity of the shaking was the duration of the 1964 quake, where the rocking lasted more than four consecutive minutes.  With all the damage to households, businesses, and local infrastructure we've seen today, the '64 quake was over 100 times more powerful and lasted more than four times as long.  With the possibility of that, or a similar quake happening again, it might be a good time to put together, at a minimum, a disaster preparedness plan and provisions.  (1964 Good Friday Earthquake Photo Gallery) Businesses in the area were also affected by the quake with office areas being left in shambles, workers being stranded on highways, and the office buildings themselves sustaining structural damage as well.  We've seen photos of warehouses, doctors offices, grocery stores, and even liquor stores with lots of broken equipment, shelving that has collapsed and lots of broken bottles of every variety. alaska earthquake Photo courtesy of Nathan Blome alaska earthquake Photo courtesy of Jamie Nelson alaska earthquake Photo courtesy of Nathan Blome Just 14 hours after the 7.0 quake at 8:29am, there have been over 175 aftershocks that have registered on the USGS site that have had a magnitude of at least 2.5, with 10 aftershocks registering 4.5 or greater.  In that same time period, there have been: 91 quakes registering 3.0 magnitude or higher 12 quakes registering 4.0 magnitude or higher 5 quakes registering 5.0 or higher A few portions of the Glenn Highway, Vine Road in Wasilla, and Minnesota Drive in Anchorage (among others) sustained significant structural damage as well, leaving a few motorists stranded and also cutting off access to various parts of town.   alaska earthquake   alaska earthquake

Sierra Callahan captured a video of Nick Callahan piloting his Jeep CJ7 through the rubble on Vine street in Wasilla after the quake.   [video width="360" height="640" mp4=""][/video] Heading south from the Mat-Su Valley toward Anchorage, you can see that one entire lane of the Northbound Glenn Highway has sloughed off into the ditch in a significant slide of material.  This aerial shot captures a good view of how large the slide is in comparison to the vehicle in the photo. alaska earthquake In Anchorage, the owner of what is likely the most popular GMC Terrain in the nation right now happened to have perfect timing on the commute to work as the car sits perfectly undamaged amidst a collapsed onramp from Minnesota Drive (bonus info: Minnesota drive does NOT allow you to drive to the Aleutian Islands) alaska earthquake Photo by Donovan Johnson Heading farther south toward the Seward Highway, motorists were caught in a flurry of falling rocks from the steep terrain alongside Turnagain Arm.  Girdwood resident Lauren Dreitzler reported to us that she was "trying to make a quick run into Anchorage when the earthquake hit. The group of cars I was with were all stuck on the road for about 2.5 hours trying to navigate through rockslide after rockslide. It was pretty intense"  Photos below show the size of the falling rocks and what a hazard they can be on the roadway! alaska earthquake Photo courtesy Lauren Dreitzler   alaska earthquake   alaska earthquake Photo courtesy Zac Moody Along with cracked roads, residents in many communities posted videos and photos of their yards, driveways, and streets with large gaping cracks spanning hundreds of feet long and some seemingly several feet deep.   [video width="640" height="800" mp4=""][/video] Video courtesy FrostyAviator (IG) [video width="1280" height="720" mp4=""][/video] Video courtesy Tanya Hegg (FB) Regarding aftershocks, there have been many, and according to the USGS, will likely be many more.  The chances of having another earthquake as strong, or stronger, are very low (4%), but its expected that up to a few thousand follow up tremors could register on the Richter Scale before things calm down.  alaska earthquake You can see and hear a significant aftershock in this video courtesy Instagram user ofalaska  [video width="640" height="800" mp4=""][/video] From cracked driveways and walls, to broken household goods, to offices left in disarray, and even cars stranded on sunken roadways, this has been quite the historic Alaska earthquake to remember, and every Alaskan has their own story to tell.   Thankfully these recent earthquakes have not been as large as the one in 1964, the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history.




I was just sitting on the floor, playing with my toys, and all the sudden, I hear a bell ringing on my toy locomtive, with had a brass bell mounted on top of it. It being designed, to ride on, and push it around with your feet. I am sitting there wondering why the bell is ringing, and I hear another noise, my mother is being chased by our dishwasher in the kitchen, and it runs over her foot, cutting her big toe, causing it to bleed, and I hear a funny noise in the glass picture window, and look and see a long crack form across it. All this is going on, while, I had been sitting in the sunlight playing on the floor. I could hear a grinding noise from deep down under the floor, not unlike the sound of a coffee grinder! People came by to check on us, we had no power, but water, they had power, but their stairs had collapsed at their apartment, so we came up a ladder, through a window, We were warm enough, but the stench of that bathroom, was unbearable, and the time the earthquake hit at the AFB, everybody was upstairs in the breakroom, when it hit, they moved to the doorways, and the hallway, just as well the floor to ceiling refrigerators fell into the space, could had injureded a lot of people in there, and after the quake pilots were scrambled to any available planes, which was a problem, as the earthquake damaged most plane’s front landing gear. They were only able to use the planes that had been parked on ice, where the front landing gear had not collapsed. A pilot was bemoaning the loss of a fighter, he had just parked in the hanger. So, off they go, waiting to take off and start world war 3. After ninety minutes they are recalled, for it was “just an earthquake”! They all had misseles with nuclear capability, being launched after takeoff, and headed North towards Russia. Than God it did not come to that, I wonder how many people reading this know just how close we really were to a war, then?

Edward Jackson April 17, 2021

I lived and worked in Anchorage in 1986. I knew people who lived through the 64 quake and had PTSD from it. I ran a file room in the National Park Service, I turned on the power file and the drawers rattled. My co worker yelled “Earthquake!” and started to run out the door. I had to stop her and explain what she’d heard wasn’t a quake. I’m sure this last quake did her in if she still lives in Anchorage. I really do worry about people who lived through them both.

Lana Harris April 17, 2021

I have an inner ear condition that is made substantially worse when there is a quake. I didn’t quite get what was wrong with me until I realized it was the quake. I feel empathy for anyone that was affected by this the same way I was.

Nikki Dee Johnson April 17, 2021

So sorry to hear this , spent 3 months in Wasilla last year 2017 for the second time with our daughter and her family , loved every minute being in Alaska . This is so sad and makes me feel bad for all of you and what you are going through , but prayers are for you everyday .

Mary Collins April 17, 2021

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published