Is the U.S. ready for “the really big one”?

A natural disaster of titanic proportions is overdue to strike the U.S., physicist Michio Kaku warns.

Seismologists predict it will be the worst natural disaster in North American history, and the federal government estimates it could contribute to 13,000 deaths and 27,000 injuries.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” the City University of New York physics professor said Thursday on “CBS This Morning.”

A devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, dubbed “the really big one” in a New Yorker article of the same name, is destined to strike a fault line called the Cascadia subduction zone that runs for 700 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast from Vancouver through parts of California.

“Forget all the Hollywood hype about the San Andreas fault. We’re talking about an earthquake, a 9.0, similar to what devastated northern Japan, which killed over 15,000 people and caused a quarter of a trillion dollars in property damage,” said Kaku, who is also CBS News’ science and futurist contributor.

The last earthquake of that magnitude struck about 315 years ago, but according to recent calculations, Kaku said, the cycle repeats every 240 years. He said in the next 50 years, there is a 1-in-10 chance a “really big one” will erupt.

That 9.0-magnitude quake could trigger a 500 mph wave and put 70,000 people in the “inundation zone” in serious risk. Depending on their location within that zone, Kathryn Schulz writes in her article, people will have between 10 and 30 minutes to evacuate.

How do 70,000 people evacuate in such a short window?

You can’t,” Kaku said.

Full article: Is the U.S. ready for “the really big one”? (CBS)

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