Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm all shook up.

One week ago, I definitely was. I was sitting on my mom's bed on my computer, and my mom was in her chair to my left, reading. We were sitting here, minding our business, and suddenly we hear a low rumble. We look around at my mom's chair, because when the cats run back and forth they seriously sound like a heard of elephants. There weren't any cats to be found! The house was still shaking, and we were looking around, wondering if a really really heavy truck had gone by or if someone was working on a neighbor's roof. (We live in a townhouse.) It suddenly dawned on me that we were having an earthquake and should probably get into the door-jam, but before my brain could send the command "move!" to my arms and legs it was done and over with. I think we sat gaping at each other longer than the actual quake lasted. "Was that just an...a...an earthquake?" Sure, we watch a ton of movies and History Channel and know what they're like, and what to do when one strikes, but in Virginia!? Unheard of! (Well, in 2006 we had one, I believe, but I don't know anyone who felt it.) My mom and I took our cell phones and the land-line downstairs to look out the window, because it seriously still has to be a truck. All our neighbors are outside, saying "did you feel that?! Because I did!" We tried calling my dad in DC, and finally got through on the land-line, as the cell lines were down. He felt it too! The first time I ran back upstairs to check the TV, coverage about Gaddafi was still on. I rapidly texted like 5 people, as texts run on a different system than cell towers. We slowly went back inside, and got on the phone with my aunt who had been through the Whittier Earthquake in 1987. She was freaked, and was like "yeah, definitely a quake." CNN was finally updated, and texts started to come back in from friends up and down the East Coast saying that yes, they had felt it as well. After I rounded up my forever kitten, Susie, who had hid under the guest bed in the basement and whose tail was fluffed all big, and fed Arwen, who didn't do much during the quake except it apparently made her hungry, we watched the breaking news.

The East Coast suffered a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. The epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, about 87 miles outside DC. (Between Fredericksburg and Charlottesville, for folks who know.) It was 3.7 miles deep, and was felt up and down the east coast, into "Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Detroit and up to Toronto" or so the scattered notes I took last week say. My aunt who was vacationing in Cape Cold felt it. We also had two aftershocks within the next hour, and a 4.5 magnitude aftershock at 1 AM.

I've collected some information, and it turns out that even though we're in the middle of a tectonic plate, and that there are two earthquake-susceptible zones, the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, where this one occurred, and the Giles County Seismic Zone. THIS website has a lot of pictures and information about Virginia earthquakes. It also turns out that due to our location in the middle of a tectonic plate, seismic waves travel "disturbingly far in such stiff, cold rock" which could be why it was so widely felt. (Source)

This was the damaged we suffered:

Poor Zooey fell over. (Zooey, the Blythe formerly known as Hester)

The box of tissues, along with my mom's books and binders fell over.

I know it's not much, and nothing to get excited about, but it was completely unexpected and a very big wake up call.

It was very unnerving. I not only had dreams I was in an earthquake for the next few nights, but as a bright and sunny autumn Tuesday, it really reminded me of 9/11. I was in middle school then, and at school when everything happened, but when I came home I remember what it was like, and it was too similar: the constant news coverage; the frantic phone calls and telling my dad to come home NOW. (he was in the middle of a telephone hearing, and didn't leave! He works near Capitol Hill, and the Capitol and CNN building on the hill had been evacuated but he didn't leave. Silly man. Then it took him 3 hours to get home because the Metros were crowded and then there was a fire. I know, right.) It was definitely a jarring experience, because no one really thinks that we're at risk for earthquakes. I just hope we don't get any more aftershocks, though Amy Vaughan, a geophysicist with the USGS Earthquake Information Center in Colorado says "'for the size earthquake that occurred, I think the number of aftershocks so far has been remarkably low. I don't know if that's an indication of things to come or not. ... There's likely there will be some more, but I don't know for how long and how large.' Aftershocks could be expected 'for days, if not weeks,' Vaughan said. 'A size like this probably wouldn't go into months, but it very well could.'" (Source)

Interesting earthquake links:
 (xkcd)

Now back to regularly schedule crafting posts, and hopefully no more Apocalyptic earthquake/hurricane combination weeks.

Oh! I forgot to mention the best thing. My grandparents have a house on Lake George, and when one my aunts called to see if they felt it and were ok, my grandpa told her a big wave had come and washed part the dock away! Hahah! It didn't, and they didn't feel it, but they did get hit pretty bad by Irene.

2 comments:

Esshaych said...

Great post - even though it's on a horrible subject :( Glad you were all ok, and keeping my fingers crossed there are no more aftershocks :)

Jillie the Great said...

Thanks & thanks!! Silly earthquakes.