What We Learned from the Yukon Earthquake
What We Learned from the Yukon Earthquake
May 2, 2017

On May 1st, 2017 at approximately 5:30am, a 6.2 earthquake hit the border between the Yukon and British Columbia. Residents were shaken awake by the quake, which rocked houses, damaged buildings, but luckily left no one injured.

Here are a few things we can learn from this quake:

  • Aftershocks can be rougher than the initial quake. The aftershock near Whitehorse was registered as 6.3: a slightly more violent quake than the original. The aftershock was felt just after 7:00 am, nearly two hours later,  when it rocked buildings and sent residents ducking for cover. Hundreds more have since been recorded directly after the initial quake.
  • Quakes can happen at any time. This quake struck early in the morning when most people in the Yukon were asleep. Those woken by shakes are likely groggy and disoriented, leading them to make poor emergency response decisions. Many people interviewed cited running towards windows, which could shatter and cause injury. The best thing you can do when woken by a quake is to stay in bed, cover your head with a pillow, and wait for the shaking to stop.
  • Don’t re-enter damaged buildings. A few buildings were damaged from the 6.2 quake and its aftershocks, including schools and government buildings. Give city officials time to inspect and clear any damaged building before going inside.
  • Earthquakes don’t just affect cities. The initial 6.2 earthquake and its many aftershocks triggered avalanches and rock falls in the nearby mountains, including Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan. A solo climber, Natalia Martinez of Argentina, found herself trapped on the mountain during the unstable alpine conditions.


Many of the larger earthquakes in the last few years have been far from British Columbia, in Asia, Europe, and South America. This earthquake hit very close to home: a reminder that not only are we not exempt from a significant quake, but we’re due for one.