Mexico’s strongest earthquake in a century recorded at Mt. Rainier

File photo of Mount Rainier from Tolmie Peak

First published on kiro7.com in Sept. 2017; more than 6,000 engagements on social

Seismic stations on Mount Rainier recorded Mexico’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, the strongest to hit the country in nearly a century.

The deadly earthquake’s epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean nearly 74 miles off the coast of Mexico. The Chiapas and Oaxaca states – home to 9 million people – were closest to the epicenter, and they are left with casualties and rubble of collapsed buildings in its wake.

On the other side of the continent, some of the 11 seismograph stations on Mount Rainier picked up distant recordings of the powerful earthquake.

The recording picked up on Mount Rainier stations. Image: PNSN

“The whole mountain was ringing from this earthquake,” said Pacific Northwest Seismic Network director of communication and outreach Bill Steele,

Distant recordings are not unusual.

Sensitive international seismographs, such as the ones on Mount Rainier, pick up events with magnitudes of about 4.5 or greater. The tools magnify ground motion – the movement of the earth’s surface from earthquakes or explosions – as it travels through the earth and along its surface.

As the instruments have the ability to measure local seismic events, it can also take what’s called teleseismic recordings. That’s when an earthquake is measured more than 1,000 kilometers from the actual event

These distant recordings contribute to global research in disasters such as the one in Mexico. Local seismologists observe the events and then collaborate on real-time data.

Image of M8.1 quake’s epicenter. Image: USGS

“A scientist in Japan and Mexico can use that data in real time for research to study that earthquake … The data is shared freely in the USGS,” Steele said. “First arrivals from around the world create a picture of how the fault broke and slipped by going backward to image where the energy was and how it was processed.”

As it does with every big earthquake, the United States Geological Survey is providing preliminary impact information and interactive maps on this resource page about the devastating Mexico quake so that the public can better understand the events leading up to the event.

Unseen photos of Mt. St. Helens eruption discovered in forgotten camera at Goodwill

Published on kiro7.com in June 2017; more than 10,000 engagements on social

A Portland woman, who finds old cameras and develops forgotten film, discovered unseen photos of the Mount St. Helen explosion. Image: Courtesy Kati Dimoff

A Portland woman who finds old cameras and develops forgotten film has discovered unseen photos of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

“I run into the big Goodwill in [Southeast Portland] and check all their film cameras for exposed, but undeveloped rolls of film,” said Kati Dimoff, who is a photographer herself. “[In May], I bought an Argus C2, which would have been produced around 1938, and it had a damaged roll of Kodachrome slide film in it.”

Dimoff dropped it off at a Portland shop that develops vintage film. When she picked it up, a message was left on her package of photographs.

“Is this from the Mount St. Helen eruption?” it read.

Thirty-seven years ago, 57 people lost their lives amid raining ash throughout Washington state in the wake of the Mount St. Helens explosion.

Journalists and residents alike captured moments of the volcano’s notorious eruption in 1980; thousands of people to this day still watch their surreal video and chilling photos the lateral blast that took out the north side of the mountain.

But Dimoff’s images show a new perspective of the plume cloud that haunted the northwest.

Continue reading Unseen photos of Mt. St. Helens eruption discovered in forgotten camera at Goodwill

Washington ready to defend state’s legal pot amid expected DOJ crackdown

First published on kiro7.com in Feb. 2017; more than 5,000 engagements on social



Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is ready to defend the will of his state’s voters after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that Donald Trump’s administration may crack down on states with legalized marijuana for recreational use.

In his daily news briefing, Spicer said the Justice Department will step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana.

Ferguson, who also led the states in challenging Trump’s executive order on immigration, noted in a statement that he and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, previously were prepared to defend the state’s legal marijuana system.

Ferguson and Inslee sent a letter last week to new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request a meeting on the topic. Read it in full here.

Washington state voters legalized marijuana nearly four years ago.

When it passed, the U.S. Attorney General’s office promised to take a hands-off attitude, as long people in Washington State kept it away from children and kept locally grown marijuana from crossing state lines. Under a new attorney general that could change, as selling it still remains a crime under federal law.

Enforcement would shift away from marijuana policy under the Obama administration, which said in a 2013 memo that it would not intervene in state’s marijuana laws as long as they keep the drug from crossing state lines and away from children and drug cartels.

Continue reading Washington ready to defend state’s legal pot amid expected DOJ crackdown

Trump’s travel ban explained: Decision expected soon on Seattle judge’s ruling


NOTE: This story was first posted on kiro7.com in Feb. 2017.  It was published before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on whether to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban that was halted by a judge in Seattle. I wrote the majority of the copy and aggregated from previous team coverage to give our users a well-rounded look at the case before the appeals court decision. 

I’ve worked this story as breaking news on our digital platforms since Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit to invalidate key provisions in Trump’s executive order. Click here to see social media samples on this story. 


A Seattle judge’s ruling temporarily blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban allows travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries once, barred under his executive order, to come into the United States.

Federal Judge James Robart’s decision remains in effect as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether the president’s executive order on immigration should be reinstated.

KIRO 7 News heard from a spokesman of the appeals court. We’re expecting a ruling in the coming days.

Here’s what we know now. Scroll down below for a timeline of events and then an expanded questions-and-answers section.

What is Trump’s travel ban?

The president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that he said concerned “extreme vetting.”

It barred any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States.

Legal permanent residents — green card and visa-holders — from those seven countries who were out of the United States after Friday Jan. 27 could not return to the U.S. for 90 days.

The order also directed U.S. officials to review information as needed to fully vet foreigners asking to come to the U.S. and draft a list of countries that don’t provide that information. That left open the possibility that citizens of other countries could also face a travel ban.

How did the State of Washington get involved?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a complaint that asked the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal.

Ferguson also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation in the state and nationwide.

Read a full explainer on the lawsuit here.

KIRO 7 News’ Essex Porter was at the news conference on Jan. 30 when the attorney general argued that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the First Amendment’s establishment clause, infringes on individuals’ constitutional right to due process and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

Microsoft and Expedia are willing to testify in this case. Amazon is seeking its legal options.

What’s exactly did Robart’s ruling do?

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle issued a ruling last week granting the restraining order brought by the state of Washington. This means Robart’s decision temporarily halted Trump’s travel ban.

Continue reading Trump’s travel ban explained: Decision expected soon on Seattle judge’s ruling

Breaking Facebook posts: Washington state’s fight against Trump’s travel ban

KIRO 7 News has been on watch since Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit to invalidate key provisions in Trump’s executive ordered that barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. See some breaking Facebook posts I’ve worked on below.

To see an extensive timeline of this case, click here.

Posts from when Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit 

Posts from when U.S. District Judge James Robart’s ruling came down in Seattle

Continue reading Breaking Facebook posts: Washington state’s fight against Trump’s travel ban

150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle area, Pew study finds

NOTE: First published on kiro7.com in Feb. 2017. More than 2,000 people reacted to this story on KIRO 7 News’ Facebook page.

An estimated 150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue – according to a list released by the Pew Research Center.

The list – released on Thursday – finds that most of the United States’ 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas.

Based on 2014 estimates, the analysis shows that unauthorized immigrants tend to live where other immigrants live. Among lawful immigrants – including naturalized citizens and noncitizens – 65 percent lived in those top metros, according to Pew.

20 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of unauthorized immigrants

President Donald Trump ordered in January cuts in federal grants for cities that offer safe harbor for undocumented immigrants.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a promise that Seattle will remain a so-called sanctuary city even at the risk of millions of dollars in federal money.

Continue reading 150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle area, Pew study finds

Can the new attorney general change pot laws in Washington? Legal expert weighs in

NOTE: This was first published to kiro7.com before Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general. 

As President Donald Trump’s attorney general pick to lead the Department of Justice nears confirmation, pot advocates in states that legalized the drug wonder if his leadership could turn to federal marijuana enforcement.

Alabama Sen.Jeff Sessions openly said during a Senate drug hearing last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” claiming the drug is dangerous. According to the Washington Post, Sessions’ former colleagues testified years ago that he used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana. ” Sessions denied the accusations.

>> Related: Read about how the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also made allegations in 1986 that Sessions used the power of his office as U.S. attorney to intimidate minority voters.

During a panel discussion presidential power in modern politics on Wednesday, criminal law expert and University of Washington professor Trevor Gardner explained to a room full of hundreds of people that he expects a clash between the federal government and high profile marijuana producers and distributors in states where voters approved its use.

“[Sessions has] taken the Obama administration to task by name and mentioned Obama, attorney generals — Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder — as well as FBI Director James Comey saying they have all [failed] to enforce federal marijuana prohibition in criminal decriminalization states,” Gardner said.

Twenty-one states have decriminalized marijuana. This means certain small, personal-consumption amounts are a civil or local infraction, not a state crime.

Washington state voters legalized marijuana nearly four years ago. When it passed, the U.S. Attorney General’s office promised to take a hands-off attitude, as long people in Washington State kept it away from children and kept locally grown marijuana from crossing state lines. Under a new attorney general that could change, as selling it still remains a crime under federal law.

“I do think the federal government, the Department of Justice, and Jeff Sessions are going to be very aggressive about prosecuting marijuana production, distribution, and decriminalization states,” Gardner said. “This is not going to be an easy task for the government.”

Continue reading Can the new attorney general change pot laws in Washington? Legal expert weighs in

Woman who escaped from shooting that killed officer: ‘All lives matter’

NOTE: This story was first published on kiro7.com in Dec. 2016. During our team coverage of an officer shot and killed in the line of duty, a KIRO 7 photographer recorded Kristi’s Croskey’s statement. She was in a home during the shooting. I posted it to Facebook, and it was viewed more than two million times.

“I don’t want to hear anything about black lives matter, because all lives matter,” Kristi Croskey said to a group of reporters as law enforcement lined up outside a hospital Wednesday night to honor a fallen Tacoma officer.

Croskey was the woman inside a home’s basement with the gunman when shots were fired. She hid during the shooting and finally made her way to safely.

“I don’t want to hear about the police officers being inhuman, shooting people or unnecessary or any of those things,” she said. “I want to say the Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot. And I want to say this situation did not have to occur, I want to say when you make poor choices, and the response is someone being killed, if that may be the situation at the end of this night, I want you to know the Tacoma Police Department did any and everything that they could to protect and serve.”

“They wanted to protect the life of him, his family, and anyone else that was involved in this matter. I do not want to hear anything about the Tacoma Police Department did wrong [or] the Lakewood Police Department did wrong, I want people to take a long inventory of themselves and see what they did wrong.”

Saying she didn’t want to interfere with the department’s investigation, Croskey’s words to the media were brief, but they hit a chord with thousands on social media.

On KIRO 7 Facebook page, hundreds of people said thank you to Croskey for sharing her experience in a video that collected more than a million views.

Continue reading Woman who escaped from shooting that killed officer: ‘All lives matter’

Police: Workers held against their will in Bellevue brothels

NOTE: First published on kiro7.com in Jan. 2016. A KIRO 7 News crew streamed this event live on our website. I wrote this copy as information was streamed lived. 

Bellevue brothels, created by a website, held workers against their will and then trafficked them across the west coast, according to local law enforcement.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

  • 12 brothels in Bellevue
  • 12 victims rescued, according to Bellevue police
  • Women were victimized in 15 U.S. states
  • At least one recent murder is related to the trafficking case
  • National prostitution website, reviewboard.net, seized in investigation

How did this happen?

King County Sheriff John Urquhart, the Bellevue police chief, and an FBI special agent held a news conference on Wednesday and announced they investigated reviewboard.net and a website called “The League.”

According to investigators, who call the case backpage.com “on steroids,” reviewboard.net facilitated prostitution and “The League” started the brothels in Bellevue.

Twelve brothels, most that operated out of high-end Bellevue apartments, have been shut down. See where the brothels in Bellevue were located in the map below; click on a “point” for the apartment name.


Police say Donald Mueller and Michael Durnal ran the ring and sold women all over the county.

Continue reading Police: Workers held against their will in Bellevue brothels

Oldest known orca spotted in ‘high spirits’ off San Juan Island

NOTE: First reported on kiro7.com on Aug. 3, 2016 (All photo credits in this story go to Heather MacIntyre.) Sadly, Researchers considered J2 Granny dead as of Jan. 2017

Estimated to be around 105 years old, J2 Granny is thought to be the oldest known living orca.

The Orca Network posted photos of Granny to its Whale Sighting Report on July 27. She was spotted near San Juan Island’s False Bay.

“We watched the J11s (J27, J31, and J39) traveling with J2 and adopted son, L87. They sure seemed to be in high spirits … And then there was that humpback that popped up surprisingly in the distance breaching over and over and over,” photographer Heather MacIntyre wrote.

The Orca Network tells KIRO 7 News that Granny is said to be around 105 years old, but there is a 12-year margin around her age meaning she could be as young as 90.

Continue reading Oldest known orca spotted in ‘high spirits’ off San Juan Island