24 January 2016

What's It Like to Be in an Earthquake?

That's a loaded question, as 'quakes come in multiple levels of strength, and the reaction from the earth. Much depends on layers of underlying rock, sand, or clay strata, and the direction from which the quake is coming.

But here's what it was like for us: it was a heck of a way to get waked up.

We could hear it coming for several seconds before it hit at 1:30 this morning, and that was loud enough to wake us up. First there was a low, growling rumble, then the side-to-side shaking started. The whole house was shaking at this point, and cabinet doors were opening a bit and then slamming shut.

Everything was rattling and squeaking, but the movement wasn't smooth. It was rough, almost gravelly, and the side-to-side motion was jerky and LOUD.

After quite a bit, there was a much sharper jolt, and then the shaking got worse.

The power went off, and glass bottles started hitting the kitchen floor, above our bedroom. At this point we tried to get up, to take "safe positions" in the voids on either side of the bed which would be formed if debris began to fall. But the shaking was bad enough that we couldn't stand up.

The shaking and jolts subsided slowly, and it was nearly another minute before we felt safe getting up. Then we grabbed flashlights and started checking for damage. Drawers and various cabinet doors were standing open. Every picture in the house was crooked, and the big screen TV on its wall mount had moved a foot away from the wall, and was pointing in a different direction.

There were a number of small items on the floor. But other than a bottle of olive oil with a spout, in the kitchen, nothing that hit the floor had spilled. My wife wants me to tell you that trying to clean up an oil spill by flashlight wasn't easy.

We eventually went back to bed, and slept through several dozen aftershocks, including a 4.5 that hit around 5:30.

So we're tired, and a little jumpy, and heading toward the couch for some Netflix-and-nap time.


Chickenmom said...

My brother in law was stationed in Alaska back in the '60's. He could never get used to them. Glad there were no injuries.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

*hugs* Glad you're okay, with nothing and no one broken.

And yes, I totally agree with my wife. Olive oil spill by flashlight at 0dark30 in the morning? Ugh! My sympathies!

PioneerPreppy said...

Wow. I didn't know quakes were common up that way.

Only ever felt one for real myself and it was so far away all it did was shake the bed but you are right its a different kind of shake that hard to really explain. Felt almost like I was drunk and trying to lay in bed but a bit more jerky.

Glad you all are OK!!!

Cathy said...

No way! Honestly. I always somehow thought you were out of reach of these scary events. I don't remember any previous posts about them . . .
Of course as my mind ages . . . there's quite a bit I don't remember.
Glad you're ok!

Rev. Paul said...

Chickenmom - according to the USGS, Alaska has more quakes every day than the rest of the U.S. combined. Most of them are too small to feel, but still ... that's a lot.

Preppy, we have quakes all the time. Alaska forms the northern boundary of the Rim of Fire, and all that. Dozens of active volcanoes, too, including one only 75 miles due west of Anchorage.

Wing, thank you for that. We had to clean the kitchen floor a second time, after daybreak, just to make sure we'd gotten all the oil.

Cathy, I've written before about quakes, including a 6.8 last year. Thank you for your concern & the good wishes.

MaddMedic said...

Glad your okay.
Was in San Fran in 1989 when the earthquake struck during the World Series. Was there on our honeymoon.
Never want to experience another earthquake...ain't right to have the earth move like that!

Rev. Paul said...

MaddMedic, I hear you. There's nothing to grab onto, and nowhere to go. It's unnerving & downright scary!

Rob said...

Padre, Glad your ok. We lived in Los Angles area growing up in the 70's Nothing like a ground snap to get you going.

drjim said...

Thanks for the "AAR", Rev!

Great to hear you and the Mrs are fine, and damage was minimal.

I think the biggest I've ever been through was the 6.7 Northridge quake in 1994.

The Lome Prieta quake was 6.9, but up in the bay area. Northridge is about 40 miles away, but where I was living at the time (San Pedro) is an area known for soil liquefaction.

It was like being in the world's biggest bowl of Jell-O, and being shaken by an angry giant! Even that far away we had lots of broken windows and cracked walls.

ProudHillbilly said...

I've felt 3 in the last decade, the strongest - a 5.8 I think - registering as 4.2 here. Two of them (one just a week ago) were just WHUMP! and rattle. The other when sent me running into the front yard. I've decided that I don't like them.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Good to hear you are okay - and tell your wife not to cry over spilled olive oil! (OH, POPEYE!)

I imagine the local liberals (all three of them) are blaming Sarah Palin for the quake - something about fracking or threatening to frack...

Stay Safe!


Rev. Paul said...

Rob, thanks. It was an eye-opener, and the first time we've lost power due to a quake.

drjim, we've experienced lots of smaller quakes, including last year's 6.8, but this one was the worst so far. I don't know what's worse: the shaking & knowledge that you're helpless, or the apprehension of wondering a) how long it's going to last, or b) if it will get worse before it stops.

PH, I don't even mind the "whump & rattle" types. Those are easy - mainly because they're short-lived.

Guffaw, I haven't heard anyone blaming Gov. Palin yet, but give 'em time. :)

Sandy said...

Rev. Paul,

Nothing like a rude awakening from a sound sleep.
Glad to hear you and yours are okay. The quakes we get here in OK are no where near the ones we used to get when stationed in Japan.
Be safe!

Rev. Paul said...

Sandy, thanks. And I understand: Alaska is part of the same "rim of fire" for volcanoes & quakes that Japan is. Makes life interesting!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Denver 1967 my father was visiting and we were sitting on a large porch drinking coffee. A ripple moved across the ground just like a ripple on a pond. Weird thing to see.

Rev. Paul said...

WSF, it's not something the average has seen - or wants to. The part that gets me is when those same ripples run through concrete or asphalt, but doesn't crack the pavement.

Brigid said...

I'm glad you are OK. I was based in California when I was a pilot so got to experience SEVERAL of those. Not fun at all.

Be safe.

Rev. Paul said...

Thanks, Brigid. Two or three strong quakes per year is the rule here, and nobody really wants them. You'd think they'd take a hint ...