Offshore Earthquake Sparks SPI Officials Discussion on Preparedness

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Officials are thinking about earthquake preparedness after an offshore quake in the Gulf over the weekend.

There has not been a registered earthquake in the South Padre Island area since 1979. That all changed Saturday evening after a 3.0 magnitude quake was reported just 64 miles offshore.

Bill Delaney lives on the Island. He says he didn't feel the Saturday afternoon quake.

"As far as feeling anything, I didn't because I don't think it would be transmitted through my jacks," said Delaney.

The National Geological Survey shows several people reported feeling the 3.0 magnitude quake.

National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Barry Goldman and his team track events such as this through the U.S. Geological Survey.

The survey doesn't disclose what kind of friction started the quake, but Goldman says it's most likely not due to fracking.

"The epicenter of this one was approximately 16.6 km, which is approximately 50,000 or more feet," said Barry Goldman.

Goldman says the epicenter was too deep to be related to drilling. He says an earthquake like this is something the Rio Grande Valley never sees.

"There's been very few events. There's not really any known fault lines over there," noted Goldman.

The last known earthquake in that region was in 1979 and just one other time before that. Goldman says a tsunami, though rare, wouldn't be out of the question.

"Day to day, you wouldn't be worried about tsunamis even week to week month to month or year to year it's a very rare event. However like anything else that's incredibly rare with very low odds, it can have a very high impact," said Goldman.

If a disturbance occurred in the right place, the wave height of the tsunami could reach 16 to 20 feet.

This has South Padre Island officials thinking about preparedness plans for a bigger earthquake that would cause a tsunami.

Emergency management coordinator for the island, Doug Fowler, says earthquakes and other emergencies are always on their mind.

He says their earthquake plan is like the one they have for hurricanes.

"The biggest thing we do is we prepare for emergencies in advance," said Fowler.

Fowler says the main thing to do is notify the public so that his team can react appropriately.

For information on how to plan ahead for disasters, you can visit the government website ready.gov. You can also sign up to receive emergency notifications from the city of South Padre Island Emergency Management.

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