Utah is a state known for its magnificent and truly extraordinary geography. From the beautiful mountains to five national parks, it is the essential hub for all things outdoors. However, Utah’s unique geography does come with some catches. If you are currently living or are planning to buy a house in Utah, taking the time to become knowledgeable about potential natural disasters is essential. It’s definitely worth educating yourself.
The main potential threat in Utah is earthquakes as the Wasatch Fault Line, which is active, runs 250 miles, starting near Malad City, Idaho, and ending near Fayette in central Utah. G.K. Gilbert was one of the first geologists to really bring attention to the fault line. According to the Utah Geological Survey, “…he indicated the massive elevation difference between Salt Lake Valley and the peaks in the Wasatch Range as evidence for a prolonged history of geologic uplift of the mountains and down-dropping of the valley floor from earthquakes.” Around 500 earthquakes occur around the Wasatch region every year, yet the majority of them are of smaller magnitudes. However, of all the earthquakes happening in Utah every year, 60 percent with magnitudes of 3.0 and greater occur in this region.
Many scientists claim the Wasatch Fault Line is overdue for a large earthquake; the University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports the “chance of a large earthquake in the Wasatch Front region during the next 50 years is about one in four.” If there were an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 to 7.5, there would be considerable damage as there have been many homes, businesses and schools built along the fault line. With a more centrally located earthquake, damage to buildings would most likely be more than 4.5 billion dollars in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. Furthermore, earthquakes can cause disruption of utilities, water, transportation and communication systems as well as soil liquefaction, landslides and rockfalls.
Taking the time now to be prepared for an earthquake to protect yourself and your home will be beneficial in the long run. Be Ready Utah has a variety of excellent resources for earthquake preparedness, including how to stabilize your furniture, emergency kits and the duck, cover and hold method.
Embrace all the great perks of living in Utah — but be prepared for potential natural disasters. It’s simply the smart thing to do as a homeowner.