Earthquake rattles southern Yukon and northern B.C.

The approximate location of the second of two earthquakes that struck northern B.C. Friday evening. (Earthquakes Canada - image credit)
The approximate location of the second of two earthquakes that struck northern B.C. Friday evening. (Earthquakes Canada - image credit)

Two earthquakes shook residents in southern Yukon, northern B.C. and Alaska on Friday evening. The epicentre of the quake was in Alaska, approximately 50 km from Skagway and 180 km southwest of Whitehorse.

The first, smaller earthquake was recorded at 8 p.m. PDT, and the second at 8:45 p.m. PDT. Both were recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres.

Earthquakes Canada said that no injuries or damages were reported, and none are expected.

The first quake registered at 4.7 on the Richter scale, and the second reached 5.2, not quite reaching the definition of a 'moderate' earthquake.

Earthquakes between 5.4 and 6 can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings and have minor impacts on well-designed buildings, according to Earthquakes Canada. Earthquakes between 3.5 and 5.4 are felt, but rarely cause damage.

Whitehorse resident Frances Ross-Furlong was driving when the earthquake hit.

"I felt the car shaking and at first I thought I was having engine trouble," she said. "But then I parked the car and it was still shaking. And then I thought someone was shaking my car, trying to get my attention.

"I kept looking out front and the side window, and I couldn't see anybody. And it wasn't windy, it wasn't stormy. It honestly took a few minutes before I went, I think this is an earthquake."

For some residents, used to living in an area of high seismic activity, it was less of a surprise.

Bob Deitrick has lived in Skagway, Alaska since 1975. He said he recognized the signs of an earthquake right away.

"It was was a nice little shaker," he said. "My chandelier was swaying back and forth, my floors and counters were vibrating pretty good. But my house is fairly secure, it's well-built, so I don't worry about foundation issues or, you know, walls collapsing."

But Deitrick said he wasn't the first in his home to notice the event.

"Prior to the earthquakes, my dogs were acting strange and agitated, running around the house, trying to find a place to hide. They can sense these things."

According to the Alaska Earthquake Centre, there is a 79% chance of magnitude 3 and above aftershocks within the next week.