Sunday, May 17, 2009

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On!

We had a 5.0 magnitude earthquake about 45 minutes ago.  I was sitting in my bedroom when the room started to shake and the windows rattled as if they were going to break.  I have lived in Los Angeles for most of the past 34 years and have lived through a number of shakers and rollers.  It has been a while.  The last big one I experienced was in 1994 which did structural damage to both my and my husband's respective office buildings.  I figured based on the feel of this one that it was centered pretty close to our house and was about a 5.0.  Correct on both accounts.  The earthquake was centered in Lennox which is about 5 miles from my house and USGS reported the magnitude as 5.0 after an initial reading of the magnitude as 4.7.

I always shout out when there is an earthquake.  This time instead of yelling "earthquake", I said "everyone get under something". After the shaking stopped and we determined everyone and everything was okay,  I went to the television to try to get news. I soon realized that I would do better on Twitter and Facebook.  Sure enough, I got more accurate information quicker on the internet, although at first I did not have an internet connection.  It is curious that the television news misreported the magnitude and epicenter at the same time I was looking at the USGS website with the official and correct information.  I guess television news still needs to talk to an official source whereas the online news sources can rely on online government official reports.  

A few things that television news does better.  It reminds everyone immediately that you should be even more afraid because this quake could be a precursor for a bigger one-- even though that type of event is much less likely than milder aftershocks.  Another thing television news can do is get human reports of how far the quake was felt and whether there was damage.  The news just reported damage in the Redondo Beach shopping mall about a mile from my house.  I gather there is water damage and broken glass at that mall. Luckily the mall was closed except for the movie theaters so that was the only business that had to be evacuated. (After watching Paul Blart, Mall Cop last night, I am imagining our local mall being evacuated by the hapless security guards that work there).

So, now an hour after the event, my heart has finally stopped racing and I am happily sipping my half caf Starbucks.  I have placed my shoes by my bed in case there is a big aftershock tonight and I am ready for the next natural disaster. 

ADDENDUM: USGS as of 10pm calls it 4.7. DAMN YOU TV NEWS!  Apparently KCAL talked to the correct person and the website was verified by a different seismologist.  

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