Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Joys of So Cal

Tuesday night, in spite of the temptation of staying up late again watching the Olympics, I went to bed early.  I always pat myself on the back when I manage that.  I tend to never get enough sleep!

Imagine my surprise when I was rudely awakened about an hour and a half later by someone shaking my bed violently... no, wait!  As I struggled awake I realized we were having an earthquake!

My cat, Jack, was sleeping down by my feet.  He looked at me with an expression that can only be described as "YIKES! WHAT'S GOING ON?" and dove under the bed in record speed.

Yikes, Mom! 
I usually just stay in bed and go back to sleep for these little quakes, but we haven't had one in a while, so I found myself jumping out of bed and running into the living room to turn on the TV.  In a few moments, after channel surfing a bit, I came across a news station that had some statistics.  They gave the quake a preliminary magnitude of 4.4.

It wasn't until the next morning that I discovered a few casualties of the quake:
Family Portrait Down!
I had several tumbled knick-knacks and one of my family portraits had fallen.  I'm surprised the little Japanese ceramic cat next to it (on the left) hadn't hit the floor.  It was teetering right on the edge of the bookcase!

Once I got to work the next day (yesterday, Wednesday the 8th)  I went right to the USGS site.  There I discovered our little quake had been centered in Yorba Linda, about 15 miles from my home, and had already been upgraded to a 4.5 magnitude.

I love the USGS website.  When you live in earthquake country, it's just nice to have a reference place!

Then, as I was minding my own business at work, suddenly my desk and the computer on it started doing the hula!

Yup, we had yet another quake, this one also centered in Yorba Linda, and also a magnitude 4.5.  As I work in Monterey Park, more than 30 miles away, it was a testament to how strong a 4.5 is.  We felt it pretty darn good.  I could hear one of our engineers on the phone across the hall from me.  He was yelling into the phone, "Hold On!  We're having a earthquake!  Hold on!  No, it's an Earthquake!  Yes.  We're having an earthquake!"  It was rather funny, and obvious that the guy on the other end of the line hadn't a clue.

Of course, we're on the second floor of an office building, which amplifies the effects a bit.

From my house to Yorba Linda is approximately 15 miles

We had another quake about 20 minutes following that one, but it was a little rolling one that you would have completely missed if you were walking or moving around.  Since then, we've had two more aftershocks, a 2.8 and a 2.6.  Actually, when they're under 3.0 in magnitude you don't really notice them.  It reminds me of a scene in Steve Martin's film, L.A. Story, where he's sitting in a restaurant and everything starts shaking.  His character is freaking out, but people around him are calmly discussing the magnitude in a conversation that's something along the lines of "4 point 0?"  "No, I would give it maybe a 3 point 8."

I realized one day that I've lived here long enough where I've had that conversation more than once! It's still funny, as long as no one gets hurt. I've come to accept the fact I live in earthquake country and the ground underneath us is moving pretty much most of the time.

Life in Southern California can be such a wild ride!

Of course, I've experienced much bigger quakes in the 25+ years I've lived here (6.0 is my personal best!), but any earthquake never ceases to amaze me. I always enjoy hearing from the seismologists who get interviewed following every one of these events.  They always look so happy.  I can tell they are having the time of their lives extrapolating all the data from the event.  It's nice that they take time to give the public a debriefing!

My friend who was just visiting from Arizona returned home on Monday.  She missed experiencing our "shake and bake" moment (it's VERY hot and humid here right now) by just a few hours!

We're okay here, for now.  Still waiting for "the Big One", which Cal Tech Seismologists are saying is closer than ever.

I can wait a looooong while for that!

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