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Earthquake strikes central Whidbey

An earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale hit about two miles east/southeast of Coupeville on Whidbey Island at 5:09 a.m. Wednesday morning.

There were no reports of injury or damage, according to Island County Sheriff Deputy Wylie Farr.

"It was apparently about 36 miles below the earth and most people don't even know about it," she said. "We checked with emergency services and I-COM and there were only a few reports."

University of Washington staff scientist Bill Steele said the event was similar to a 4.5-magnitude quake recorded under Poulsbo on Jan. 30.

"It was kind of a groaning of the Juan de Fuca plate that runs under the sound," he explained. "We have a number of them every year. Sometimes a lot of little quakes can indicate a larger strain is building."

He said there's still a lot science doesn't know, nor can anyone predict where a quake will strike.

"There's an 83 percent chance you could have a magnitude-seven earthquake right under you within the next six years. Or in the next 50 years," he said.

One early-morning riser felt the temblor.

Coupeville resident Julie Rosenthal felt the earthquake and knew what it was right away.

"I was kind of waking up anyway, but I knew it was an earthquake because I'm from California and I'm used to the feeling," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal, who lives about six miles south of downtown Coupeville in the Admirals Cove neigborhood said that she had not heard if anyone in Coupeville center had felt it.

"My son Blake said he thought it sounded like the wind was hitting the house really hard."

Her daughter was sleeping outside in the playhouse with a girlfriend when they heard the quake.

"She thought it was the boys goofing around and banging on the windows. My boys, who are all Boy Scouts, said that they should get an emergency preparedness kit ready, just in case," she said.

The United States Geological Survey Web site — earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter — reported that 16 Coupeville residents and 30 Oak Harbor residents called in about the quake.

The Richter magnitude scale assigns a single number to quantify the amount of seismic energy released by an earthquake, based on a 1 to 10 logarithmic scale. An earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0.

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