Monday, July 02, 2007

First strong earthquake I've felt in a while!

About 1 minute ago a strong earthquake shook my parents house in Royal Oaks, California (where I'm visiting for a few weeks) pretty good. Royal Oaks is near Santa Cruz, and the epicenter of the pretty serious Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, so I wonder where this one originated. Today's was a higher frequency type - a faster vibration (as opposed to a rolling wavy type) and started out with a powerful shake and tapered off over maybe 15 seconds or so. No damage was done -- around here anyway! It will be interesting to see the details of the quake as they surface on the news and the web over the next few days.

The first quake I ever felt was actually the Loma Prieta earthquake, and at the time I actually thought it was rather fun. I was living in Palo Alto, and a freshman in high school. I had been laying down on my bed reading a book or something, and when I stood up, I felt strangely off-balance. Thinking that I must have stood up too fast and was a bit dizzy, a pillow then practically hopped off my desk, and I knew it wasn't all in my head. The house started to make noises like a big, old wood boat, and so I went to my bedroom doorway to check out what was going on.

The whole house seemed as if it was floating on water, slowly rocking on the waves. The front door of the house was open and I distinctly remember looking out across the street as the trees swayed back and forth as the waves of the earthquake passed through the neighborhood. My little sister's friend was freaking out and started screaming at me, "GET IN A DOORWAY! IT'S AN EARTHQUAKE, GET IN A DOORWAY!!" It didn't seem so scary to me, and I found it pretty humorous how animated she was about the whole thing. I thought the sensation of being on what felt like liquid land was so cool! Too bad it was so devastating for so many people in the rest of the San Francisco Bay area.

Update: It turns out that today's quake was rated at 4.3 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was only about 3.9 miles away -- probably why it felt so strong! You can check out the statistics at the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program web site. Also, if you have Google Earth, you can download and double-click this KML file (a Google Earth bookmark) to see the exact location of the epicenter.

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