Linus Sticklin, age 7, wowed the Disaster Night! crowd with his knowledge of natural disasters.
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Linus Sticklin, age 7, wowed the Disaster Night! crowd with his knowledge of natural disasters.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Kristin Leong

Could a tsunami reach Columbia City? And other Disaster Night! questions

A catastrophe-focused crowd turned out last night for KUOW’s Disaster Night! — a quiz show about natural disasters (and disaster movies), at the Royal Room in Columbia City.

Audience members were asked for their favorite disaster-themed songs, and competed for the right to ask two experts their questions about natural disasters.

Linus Sticklin, 7, wowed the crowd with his knowledge of natural disasters. He also won a KUOW headlamp, and got the chance to ask the following question: “Will a tsunami reach Columbia City?”

“The short answer is no,” said Bill Steele, of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington. Alison Duvall, a professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, explained that even the biggest waves wouldn’t reach the Royal Room from the coast, and any nearby disaster in say, Lake Washington, would not produce a big enough tsunami.

Later in the night audience member Merritt Green asked: “What percentage of buildings in Seattle are likely to be seriously damaged in a major earthquake?”

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The panelists debated the definition of “serious damage,” and discussed the perils of unreinforced masonry buildings, but didn’t have a specific number.

“Around 25 percent,” Bill Steele offered.

That answer didn't entirely satisfy this audience, so, at the end of the night, the crowd voted for a KUOW reporter to do a story on it, and KUOW's Anna Boiko-Weyrauch has promised to take a closer look.