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Earthquake drill will be conducted on Thursday across Montana - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Earthquake drill will be conducted on Thursday across Montana

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The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that rattled Lincoln and the surrounding area in July - and the many aftershocks that followed - are a powerful reminder that Montana is earthquake country.

On Thursday morning, disaster and emergency service officials will be conducting the annual “Great Montana Shakeout” drill.

The goal of the exercise is to train people to drop, duck, cover, and hold until the ground stops shaking.

Lewis & Clark County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Paul Spengler says the best way to survive a quake if you're inside a building is to ride it out in place and then exit when the quake is over.

“The drill will probably take about ten or fifteen minutes,” says Spengler. “But it's a great way to get adults, especially, to be conditioned for the proper response, Drop, Duck, Cover and Hold when the ground shakes.”

The drill will start at 10:19 a.m. on Thursday.

Several people have pointed out that many public schools in Montana are not in session on Thursday - but the earthquake drill is not just a school-based exercise. It is designed for all Montanans to practice and be ready for earthquakes.

The ShakeOut website provides the following information:

The ShakeOut Drill is scheduled for 10:19 a.m. on October 19, 2017. This means that wherever you are at that moment—at home, at work, at school, anywhere—you should Drop, Cover, and Hold On as if there were a major earthquake occurring at that very moment, and stay in this position for at least 60 seconds. There will not be any freeway closures, power outages, or other simulated effects of the hypothetical earthquake, unless your local government or utility company specifically notifies you about something of this nature. The ShakeOut is not something you need to leave work to participate in—in fact, participating at work is encouraged! Businesses, organizations, schools, and government agencies can register and have their employees practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On or have a more extensive emergency drill. 

Spengler has a few tips for surviving an earthquake:

  • Keep a sturdy pair of shoes by your bed for when you need to exit your home. In earthquakes, windows tend to shatter inward, so you need to protect your feet.
  • Establish a rally point outside your home or workplace to gather together once a quake stops.
  • Do an inventory of your home or workplace, looking for heavy objects that are located in high places. During a quake, those things can become deadly falling hazards.
  • Be prepared with three to four days worth of supplies on hand at home. That's how long it will typically take for substantial help to make it to your neighborhood. That includes a gallon of water a day for each person, food supplies and ways to keep warm during that time.

Click here to visit the ShakeOut website for more information.


On July 6, 2017, Montana experienced its largest earthquake in more than 10 years when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit about five miles southeast of Lincoln.


BACKGROUND: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana is one of the most seismically-active states in the country, although the vast majority of recorded earthquakes are very small, causing no damage and rarely noticed by people. 

Montana is located within the Intermountain Seismic Belt, an active earthquake region stretching along the Rocky Mountains. It is the fourth-most seismically active state, although the vast majority of earthquakes in Montana are too small to be felt.

But there are exceptions. About 90 years ago, a large earthquake hit southwest Montana. The quake damaged a schoolhouse in Three Forks, twisted railroad tracks along the Missouri River, and damaged a jail in White Sulphur Springs. 

Ten years after that another big quake hit Helena, killing two people and causing millions of dollars in damage. It damaged churches, collapsed walls right out of homes, and hit commercial and government buildings as well.

There was also the deadly 1959 earthquake that created "Quake Lake" and shook West Yellowstone. It claimed the lives of 28 people and did the equivalent of $89 million in damage. 

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