A strong earthquake centered about 20 miles northwest of Stanley, Idaho, was felt across the Pacific Northwest and beyond Tuesday afternoon.

The 6.5-magnitude quake centered along the aptly named Shake Creek struck at 4:52 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Stanley Mayor Steve Botti told the Idaho Statesman he didn’t immediately know of any significant damage to the small mountain town in the shadow of the Sawtooth Mountains.

“Stuff was flying all over the place,” Botti said to the Boise newspaper. “I was upstairs, and I tried to walk down the steps and I couldn’t because it was shaking too much.”

Harold Tobin, a seismologist at the University of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at Seattle, said people from Great Falls, Mont., to eastern Washington and from northern Utah to southern British Columbia, Canada, reported feeling the quake. Social media posts indicated the shaking was felt in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, the Palouse and all other parts of the Tribune’s circulation area.

“The whole region, I would say, felt this at some level,” Tobin said. “I think it’s fortunate the epicenter was in a pretty sparsely populated area.”

Elizabeth Cassel, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Idaho, said the quake was likely related to the Sawtooth Fault and happened in a seismically active area of the state. She said it was the second-largest quake recorded in Idaho, behind only the 6.9 magnitude Borah Peak earthquake of 1983 that killed two children at Challis.

Cassel said the ground in that area has been stretching for the past 15 million years as tectonic plates move and the greater Rocky Mountains are slowly collapsing.

“When you build up high mountains by squishing everything together, if you release that stress holding all the stuff together, then things are going to spread out,” she said.

Tobin said several aftershocks occurred and can be expected to continue for some undetermined amount of time.

He said earthquakes and their potential to cause damage is something people should plan for.

“It’s a reminder that people everywhere should be prepared for the possibility and think about preparedness, like the same kind of stocking-up on supplies for the epidemic, and think about family planning.”

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

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