Uh oh. Earthquake in Southern California. USGS is rating it a 5.4 on the Richter Scale. Aftershocks are still occurring. I hope those of you who live out there are safe and that damage remains minimal.
Of all the natural disasters likely to occur in the U.S., earthquakes worry me the most. The idea that the very earth beneath my feet can move, suddenly, without warning, is frightening. There are warnings for everything else. Or at least conditions that you know might produce something. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, landslides, avalanches, fires, tidal waves, lightning. Everything I can think of comes as a result of observable pre-conditions. Except earthquakes. Scientists are working on ways to predict them and are making progress. Early warning systems are being developed. Still, given any choice at all about where to live, I would not choose an earthquake-prone area.
Once, as a kid in Oklahoma City, I felt a barely detectable quake that was more just an oddity at the time. But less than ten years ago, when I was living in upstate NY, there was a quake strong enough to wake me from a sound sleep. By the time I realized what was happening, it was over. No damage, no aftershocks. Just a reminder that even small quakes are scary.
But a quake that causes structural damage, that brings down buildings, breaks gas lines, collapses overpasses — no thanks. I’d rather dodge tornadoes in Oklahoma or blizzards in Colorado.