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Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE....Oooh. Nice little earthquake we just had here in Irvine. Guess I should turn on the TV to find out whether it really was little or not.....

UPDATE: Ah. 5.6 centered on Chino Hills. That's about 20 miles north of me.

UPDATE 2: Just upgraded to 5.8.

UPDATE 3: Now downgraded to 5.4 Make up your minds, seismologists!

Kevin Drum 2:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

Yeah, earthquakes might seem little to you, but not if the epicenter is 200 miles away.

Posted by: edub on July 29, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

News is saying 5.6

Posted by: Dude on July 29, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Very quiet up here in San Francisco!

Posted by: Terry on July 29, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like a 5.8. Not small, but generally not too damaging.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php

Best wishes to everybody in the Southland.

Posted by: trollhattan on July 29, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Wow Drudge had that up within seconds! Before you even felt it Kevin!

Glad you are OK.

Posted by: Teresa on July 29, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hope all's well. How do cats react to seismic events?

Posted by: lampwick! on July 29, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Definitely felt it here in Pasadena. Friends out on the westside/Santa Monica also saying they felt it, that's about 45 miles from the epicenter.

Posted by: IdahoEv on July 29, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Seemed loooong here in Santa Monica, but then again I am a new england transplant. First real one for me.

Posted by: UberMitch on July 29, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Frequent low, or no, damage earthquakes lessen the probability of infrequent catastrophic quakes. So a smaller quake in California is probably good news.

We hope everyone maked it through this one unscathed.

Posted by: slanted tom on July 29, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Did you feel the earth move under your feet?
Did you feel the sky tumbling down, tumbling down?

Posted by: Petey on July 29, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

NBC just announced that they're resurrecting Tim Russert to cover the earthquake. Hallelujah!

Posted by: Petey on July 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

So did Inky and Dominominion run around like bats out of hell about a minute before?

Back when I lived in Irvine my cats did that when the Newport fault slipped. Since then I have always paid attention and run to a doorway when both cats go nutty at the same time.

** Note it must be at least two cats going nuts simultaneously. Single cat nuttiness does not constitute an alarm. And of course if both cats have just consumed fresh catnip then false alarms will abound.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 29, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is good news for John McCain.

Posted by: lampwick! on July 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Have you ever noticed how folks in the Southland refer to a temblor as "the earthquake" while folks elsewhere refer to the event just as an "earthquake".

Posted by: Petey on July 29, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Felt it pretty good up here in Claremont, maybe just 10 miles or so as the crow flies to the north of Chino Hills. It was a big rolling one as opposed to a shaker. No major damage, though. First real decent-sized quake we've had in a while, it seems.

Posted by: jt on July 29, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why have folks on the teevee and the internets suddenly decided to publicly discuss their orgasms in oddly euphemistic language?

Posted by: Petey on July 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

We felt it pretty good in Glendale/Burbank. My husband is going to run home at lunchtime and see if the kitties got shaken off their favorite perch on top of the bookcases.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I live fewer than 10 miles from the epicenter. I was sure stuff would come down; had the shaking lasted any longer I think it would have.

This was the first quake in 7 years that had me getting away from glass and grabbing for something to hold on to.

Posted by: MattD on July 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone's fine here. As for the cats, they were already hiding under the bed because today is cleaning day. Sadly, this meant no opportunity to test their earthquake precognition capabilities.

Their vacuum cleaner precognition capabilities, however, are quite impressive.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on July 29, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

slantedTom: Unfortunately it takes a very lot of small ones (or better still slow (aseismic) events) to remove enough strain. Shorter term, it means the local stress field has changed, i.e. slight increase in the odds of a bigger one (but not enough to worry about).

Posted by: bigTom on July 29, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

So... an earthquake hits, and you make a blog post BEFORE you turn on the TV to find out what happened???????

You need an intervention, dude.

Posted by: Memekiller on July 29, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

10th floor of Downtown highrise. Felt it pretty good, as strong a shake as I can remember, but nothing fell over, and no visible damage/everything worked except for cellphone service. Most people are back at work but out-of-town clients/guest are pretty freaked.

Posted by: Shine on July 29, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

NFW I would ever live in California. Sorry....

Posted by: Ethel-To-Tilly on July 29, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

The media will do absolutely anything--even start an earthquake--just to avoid talking about a big story dealing with right-wing Republican corruption.

Posted by: Anon on July 29, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I felt it down in La Jolla. I thought it was just the wind causing the window to rattle when I realized that my chair was rocking too....

Posted by: Jerome on July 29, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, glad to see you and the cats are okay, as well as the rest of the Southland. (I love saying words like "Southland" and "sigalert"...makes me feel like a real southern Californian!)

Posted by: Vincent on July 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Their vacuum cleaner precognition capabilities, however, are quite impressive.

Posted by: Kevin Drum

Another reason for INKBLOT for PRESIDENT.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 29, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

...vacuum cleaner precognition capabilities...

That's a qualification for president? Well, I suppose it worked for Bill Clinton.

Posted by: thersites on July 29, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Get your mind out of the gutter, thersites.

Posted by: Inkblot on July 29, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

UPDATE 2: Just upgraded to 5.8.

That's a funny way to put it. ;-) Glad you're okay.

Posted by: Gregory on July 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Two interesting URLs

Shakemap of recent events
http://www.cisn.org/shakemap/sc/shake/index.html

Probability of an earthquake of Magnitude 6 or higher within 24 hours anywhere in California. Updated daily, so today's little thing won't register right now.
http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/step/

Posted by: anandine on July 29, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

This is good news for John McCain.

Lampwick wins the thread.

Posted by: ckelly on July 29, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the Rapture Index is at 164, down one point since yesterday, but the CA quake is likely to push it back up a point or two!

PTL!!

Posted by: JM on July 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody remember the Steve Martin movie "LA Story"? There's a scene in a restaurant where Martin and his friends are having lunch when a quake hits and, as everything moves and sways around them, they calmly debate the strength of the earthquake.

Well that literally just happened to me. My son and I were eating lunch in a restaurant when everything begin gently - but persistently - swaying. After checking overhead to be sure there were no chandeliers or architectural decor that could come down on us (this becomes second nature in California), we laughed and tried to guess the strength of the quake through the duration. I called it closest: somewhere in the mid 5's.

By the way, the worst experience I ever had here with an earthquake wasn't the strongest one: I was sitting in the restroom at work, and I do mean sitting, when everything started to shake and rattle. THAT will instill a sense of vulnerability in you right quick.

Posted by: lucienc on July 29, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

On second thought, they just updated the map at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/cob/bcac/boardfacts.html. It shows a big yellow blotch over LA.

Posted by: anandine on July 29, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Make that http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/step/.

Posted by: anandine on July 29, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

I always wondered what it would be like to experience an earthquake while driving on the freeway and today answered that question. I was northbound on the 110 when the KFWB announcer stopped in midsentence and said that they were shaking; within moments, several other KFWB location people came on from all over the area to give their input. I never felt anything different from the usual driving feel. By the time I got off the road, it was over. So that answered one question.

Does anybody remember how television announcer Kent Shocknik (spelling?) crawled under his desk during an earthquake while on camera, and he was the butt of jokes about it for years, including an act in the Doo Dah Parade.

By the way, did anybody ever notice that down here we use expressions like "on the 110" whereas in northern Cal they omit the definite article? I wonder why nobody ever mentions this curiousity.

Posted by: Bob G on July 29, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

For those who haven't experienced an earthquake before, the first few seconds of an earthquake are the most troubling. Once you recognize what's going on, you sort'uv freeze, check what's above you to see if there is anything that could fall on you, then wait and see how bad it's going to get and how long it's going to last. Will you have to duck under something for cover? Is the building about to come down? Waiting... nothing falling... waiting... building doesn't appear to be falling down... shaking subsiding... huh, good. I guess we're not all going to die in a collapsing skyscraper after all. Sweet. Guess it's time for an early and long lunch. Probably should head home and check on the pets to make sure none of them became fluffy pancakes.

Our internet and electricity was fine and was uninterrupted but a lot of people's cell phones were useless. I made a few calls but couldn't get through. A couple of text messages I sent didn't get delivered for a full hour.

Pets are fine, btw. Yappier than usual, but otherwise occupy their normal three dimensions.

I'm on the 16th floor of a high rise office building in Westwood (West Los Angeles - near UCLA, between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills). It rattled the entire building (which was surprising and disconcerting, since tall buildings like this frequently absorb the shake and convert it directly into swaying) for 3-5 seconds and left us swaying for another minute and a half or two.

Nothing even remotely as bad as the Northridge quake in '94. That thing felt like a freight train was going by right outside my door and that the building was falling over on it's side during the violent shaking (and seemed to last for at least a half a minute - which is an eternity). And man was it loud. Everything in all 8 stories of that building was rattling. Was more like bad plane turbulence.

Today's quake was more like a short, mild buffeting of plane turbulence. Enough to wiggle the liquid in your drinks and sway the lights ahead, but not much more. Oh, and a lot of people felt motion sickness from the subsequent swaying.

Posted by: Augustus on July 29, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

I was sitting in the restroom at work, and I do mean sitting, when everything started to shake and rattle. THAT will instill a sense of vulnerability in you right quick.

This has been my position during every earthquake I've ever been through. I'm not kidding. Now I just catheterize myself before each trip to California or anyplace in the Ring of Fire. Okay, that part I was kidding about.

Posted by: shortstop on July 29, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe you need a bird too, just in case the kitties don't do warn you in time.

I've heard that pet birds really squawk and flutter about with tremors too, and besides, it would give the cats something do other than lay around all day.

Posted by: Me_again on July 29, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

So how long *did* the shaking last?

Posted by: David on July 29, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, shortstop, you are truly an unlucky individual. On the bright side, however, earthquake scientists investigate all phenomena that could be predictive of seismic events, however unusual. Caltech may want to talk to you.

Posted by: lucienc on July 29, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

My brother works on the 14th floor in downtown LA. He says it was quite a ride, yet his underwear is as clean as when he put it on this morning. Must not do much laundry.

Posted by: bigcat on July 29, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 29, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

How do we dance when the Earth is shaking?

Posted by: on July 29, 2008 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

I was sitting in a hangar off the end of San Diego airport one evening [very close to the runway] when the building started shaking. We looked at each other and thought it was due to a wind shear or vortex from some large heavily weighted cargo jet. Only learned later it was a quake.

Posted by: Jet on July 29, 2008 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

UPDATE 3: Now downgraded to 5.4 Make up your minds, seismologists!

Reminds me of our local news last week. After showing video of a funnel cloud over New Hampshire, the news anchors said that meteorologists are studying records and will determine whether or not this was in fact a tornado.

Posted by: thersites on July 29, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Always happy to talk to Caltech, lucienc, but it's really not that bad; I've only been through a handful of quakes.

Posted by: shortstop on July 30, 2008 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

I was sitting in the restroom at work, and I do mean sitting, when everything started to shake and rattle. THAT will instill a sense of vulnerability in you right quick.

This is clearly a situation where a wide stance is recommended

Posted by: CSTAR on July 30, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

When you get too many illegal aliens on one side of the San Andreas fault, it weighs that side down, initiating a slippage.

Posted by: Luther on July 30, 2008 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

The north end of Honshu, the main island in Japan had a 5+ earthquake a few days ago. I recall there was a comment on the news that a warning had been issued about thirty minutes before the quake hit, courtesy of some sort of seismic monitoring and prediction system, but there were no other details about this.

I experienced a 5+ earthquake my first night in Tokyo last year. Japan is big on disaster prevention and preparation...

http://tinyurl.com/2qo2vm

Posted by: Robert Sneddon on July 30, 2008 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

The 5.6 and possibly also the 5.8 were determined by computer program. The 5.4 was definitely read by a seismologist. It may also be (I don't know this at present), that the 5.4 was a moment magnitude and the 5.8 a Richter magnitude, or possibly a surface wave magnitude. It's important to wait till one of the labs or the USGS makes a determination based on readings by a seismologist, at which time the type of magnitude scale used is normally also made known.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 30, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

It was impossible for many people to use their cell phones due to excessive traffic. This is really troubling. When we get a serious earthquake, people won't be able to call for help because the phone lines are jammed.

I encourage those of you in CA to contact your elected officials to let them know that there is a serious problem here.

Posted by: MattD on July 30, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

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