ANCHORAGE - Alaska gets an average of 5,000 earthquakes a year.
But the magnitude 4.7 that occurred just after 7 a.m. Wednesday got everyone's attention because the epicenter was so close to Anchorage.
It’s what a municipal official said should be a “quake-up call” for Anchorage residents, who can expect a more potent quake in the not-too-distant future.
Many Anchorage residents didn't need their alarm clocks this morning, thanks to the earthquake.
"I’ve heard a lot of reports that people heard it before they felt it,” said Dawn Brantley of the municipality’s emergency operations center. “I was in north Eagle River and our house started to shake a little bit and then all of a sudden it got a lot bigger, sounded like a train coming through the house."
There were no reported injuries or damage.
But it underscored the fact that destructive quakes are not just possible in Alaska, but ultimately inevitable.
Almost 10 years ago a 7.9 quake tore up the Parks Highway south of Healy.
"We get an average of one magnitude 8.0 or larger earthquake every 13 years,” Brantley said. “The last time we had one was 1964. So we are overdue. Today is just a good reminder that that's going to happen at some point. And to keep your family safe, to help them survive such a devastating disaster, takes preparation."
While earthquakes can't be predicted with much specificity, the U.S. Geological Survey said a Good Friday-size earthquake may not occur again for as much as 200 years.
"I think earthquake scientists wouldn't be exceptionally surprised if there was a magnitude 8 that occurred way off shore, maybe out by Middleton Island, something like that,” said USGS’ Peter Haeussler. “I think that's a possibility that couldn't be thrown away right now."
So while Alaska has more earthquakes than all the Lower 48 states combined, complacency isn't advised.
Someday another one will rock our world.
Brantley, of the municipality, said Alaskans should prepare for earthquakes by securing shelves with straps, moving heavy objects to lower shelves and designating earthquake safe areas of the house for children.