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Mild earthquake shakes Oak Harbor area

"November came in with a bit of a jolt.Just 37 minutes into the month, a small 3.3-magnitude earthquake shook the North Puget Sound area near Oak Harbor. The quake was centered under Strawberry Point and occurred more than 13 miles down, which is considered shallow by earthquake standards.People in North and Central Whidbey reported feeling the quake. Other reports came in from Camano Island, the Stanwood area of the mainland and even from Orcas Island.Alice Johnson, dispatch supervisor for ICOM-911, said that about the time of the quake four calls came in from people saying they heard noises outside. About a minute later five more calls were received from people asking if there had been an earthquake. Other than that, it appears most people slept through the shaker. No damage was reported. A 3.3 intensity quake is considered weak and does not normally cause property damage. A slightly larger quake occurred on the Olympic Peninsula southeast of Port Angeles in mid October and another rumbled under San Juan Island at the end of June. Neither resulted in measurable damage.Earthquakes are not uncommon in the Puget Sound area. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, more than 15 minor quakes have been recorded in the region within the past two weeks alone. Most were of a magnitude of 2 or less.T.J. Harmon, the county's emergency services director, said such earthquakes don't necessarily mean a big quake will hit soon.People shouldn't read into it that we're leading up to anything, she said, But what they should recognize is that this is a seismically active area. Harmon estimated that the quake lasted no more than a few seconds but was certainly enough to wake a few people up, including herself.For anyone hooked up to the Internet, Harmon suggested they visit the Geologic Survey Web site and fill out the Did You Feel It? form. She said the University of Washington uses the data to map earthquakes, locate faults and assess future possibilities. The site is located at http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/pnw/STORE/X11010837/ciim_display.html.When will the next quake hit? Harmon said the answer is still hidden underground.We don't know, she said. We just know there is plenty of potential. "

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