Kelowna residents gently rocked by earthquake

An earthquake about 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy was felt all the way in Kelowna, Wednesday night.

Michelle Trudeau was nestled in her downtown Kelowna home, watching a movie Wednesday night when her world was rocked.

“We have 77 gallon fish tank in our living room, and we all of a sudden looked at the fish tank, and the live plants were swaying back and forth,” she said.

“On the top of the tank, there were waves and it was almost overflowing onto the carpet and the blinds were swaying back and forth.”

She didn’t actually feel the movement herself, but  just seeing her surroundings shift was unnerving, and Trudeau, like many other Okanaganites, went to social media to find out what happened.

Turned out, that she was one among dozens in Kelowna feeling tremors from a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that hit just after 8 p.m. off the coast of Vancouver Island. Two more more earthquakes followed with magnitudes of 5.0 and 4.2.

Taimi Mulder , earthquake seismologist with the Geological Service of Canada, which is a part of Natural Resources Canada. confirmed that the epicentre was about 50 kilometres off the northwest coast of Vancouver and struck at a depth of 11 kilometres. The shake reached as far as Kelowna in one direction and Seattle in the other.

“It was big,” said Mulder, noting it took a minute and a half for the earth’s waves to reach Kelowna.

“Anything over 5.5 makes the earth ring like a bell. The larger the earthquake the longer the wavelength.”

Mulder also pointed out that the human body is well tuned to such events, when they’re in a position to be.

People who were sitting down and doing things quietly who felt it,” she said. “The human body is a very good accelerometer.”

Mulder said that Kelowna isn’t in an at risk position, in terms of fault lines, but it’s not completely unheard of for tremors to be felt in the valley.

Murray Roed, a geologist who once taught on the subject at UBC Okanagan, said the Okanagan does have a big fault line.

“It goes as deep as 20 km in the west,” he said.

“But we haven’t had a major earthquake in the Okanagan in at least 10,000 years.”

The general rule of thumb, however, is one every 500 years.



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