Just As I Thought

Event 40182619

There’s no use trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of the tectonic plates, the kinks and bends of the rock or the motion of the waves. Last year I reported to you that I had experienced my first California earthquake, a bang and a quick wave and it was all over — story of my life. This was actually the second earthquake I’d ever experienced, the first being back home in Virginia. That one was about a 4, about 100 miles away, and it swayed my house and me in it; it was a disconcerting event.
I bring this up because we had an earthquake here early this morning. It was a 3.6, centered about 22 miles from my house… and I never felt a thing.
Yes, it was at nearly 3am, but I’m a light sleeper as evidenced by the fact that Diego woke me up whining around 3:30am to go out.
It is strange how waves travel — or don’t — in different areas. This one, located in the mountains to the east of San Jose, seems to have petered out before it made it into the valley below. They call it Event 40182619, but I call it a non-event.

A minor earthquake shook the ground about 20 miles north of Morgan Hill early this morning, but no damage was reported.

The magnitude 3.6 earthquake was recorded at about 2:42 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park. Its epicenter was about 21 miles east of San Jose city hall.

Officials with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said they’d received no calls related to the quake.

I find myself becoming more and more paranoid every day about earthquakes. I admit to a great deal of curiosity about what it might be like to be in an earthquake, even though I know it will frighten me. At the same time, I am terrified about what I could lose if a big one strikes. A house that I owe $540,000 on that could become a very expensive pile of rubble? People console me by pointing out that my house is in excellent condition and has been standing here since 1937; but in that time there has only been one major quake here, 1989’s Loma Prieta. One of my neighbors pointed out that a house behind me lost the entire front during that quake, but I haven’t heard any other anecdotes about damage in this area. Landslides, liquefaction, the terms all float around in my head and make me crazy, waiting for the inevitable and wishing I could somehow manage to have a camera running when it hits.


  • Having spent my life in Northern Calif. and Alaska. Being stationed on Adak (volcanic island) and Beluga point (base of a volcano) Earthquakes and rumbling have been with me my entire life. Sad to say I’ve become numb to them. If stuff isn’t falling off the walls I don’t even get out of bed.

    Your house is important but why are you worrying about your house if a big one strikes your area rather than making a plan for your and Diego’s survival. NO should have taught you you’ll be on your own for a week.

    Damage to structures is primarily based on frequencies and wave cycles. But as important, is how your house was built and what kind of ground its sitting on.

    Older homes do better than newer homes most of the time. When we had a good sized quake in Anchorage my neighbors in custom homes were dismayed that my two story salt box built in the 50s was the only house in the entire neighborhood that had zero damage. Because when they built our homes they nailed them together. Half of the newer homes have a lot of staples. And back then they didn’t count the number of nails they used. If the person hammering it in thought it needed another nail he put one in. He was thinking about building a good home not how cheaply he could do it.

    If the ground under your home is solid you’ll have far fewer problems. And it’s not the ground in your area that counts its the ground directly under your home. If your house is built on a piece of ground subject to liquefaction then there’s not a lot you can do.

    But planning for survival in the event of an earthquake or fire is something you CAN do.

    (And they do make motion sensors that trigger the start of filming.)

  • Actually, I’m not that worried about my (and Diego’s) survival, partially owing to the CERT training I had back in Arlington. I keep my CERT go bag just beside my bed. I’ve tried to be somewhat earthquake savvy as I put together my new home, for instance, my big plasma television is screwed down so it won’t fall over and I haven’t hung any pictures over the bed where they could fall on me as I sleep. All my furniture is deliberately low, I don’t have any tall items to topple over. The only thing I can’t really prevent myself being hurt from is if the roof were to fall in on me. In case of fire, I have fire extinguishers and about a half dozen ways to get out of the house, with Diego in hand.
    The major thing I haven’t done so far is lay in a stock of food and such to last a week. I probably have enough to last 3 days right now, which is recommended but one should always be prepared…

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