1964 — An earthquake strikes Alaska

It seemed like an ordinary Good Friday in Alaska, until just after 5:30pm, March 27, 1964.

But then the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America (and at that time, the third most powerful in the world) struck. The quake’s epicenter was 78 miles east of Anchorage, in the ocean. The quake cause massive movements of land – some parts of Alaska were permanently raised 38 feet, others dropped 8 feet. Worse than the damage caused by the quake proper was the destruction and death of the tsunamis that it caused. In the end, a total of 131 people were killed by the quake, although all but 9 of those were killed by the tsunamis (and 16 of those were in Oregon or California), and the bill for the property damage ran to millions.

Hardest hit were Anchorage and Valdez, but many other Alaskan communities, especially coastal ones, suffered damage from the quake or tsunamis. Damage was also reported along the west coast of Canada and the United States, and effects of the quake were noticed as far away as Hawaii and Africa.

Referenced in:
Alaskan Earthquake — Al Olson