Monday, April 14, 2008

Earthquake Warnings, Not Scare Stories

In the last post, I told you of news informing us of an earthquake "sometime/somewhere" in California. Perhaps without intention, regular reader Anonymous, a bit more serious than I was on the point, reminded me that quakes are deadly serious. And that got me thinking again about how the story was presented by local media.

I was listening to local A.M. talk radio when the news reader informed us that earthquake experts said there will likely be a 6.7 or greater magnitude quake 'somewhere in California, sometime in the next 30 years.' That's what I heard; that's what thousands of other Southern Californians heard. It was factually correct, but so wrong on many levels.

I was in SoCal during the Oct. 1, 1987 Whittier Narrows 6.0 quake that left 8 dead; $358 million in property damage to 10,500 homes and businesses. The epicenter was only tens of miles away from me.

I was also here Jan 17, 1994 for the 6.7 Northridge quake that killed 57 people according to the California Geological Survey and 72 people according to the scare story, injured 9,000+, and caused $40 billion in damage on which we are still paying. The epicenter was only scores of miles away from me.

There have been many other temblors I have experienced, none pleasant. The probability of death or injury is very real.

What is not needed are stories such as the one bandied about today saying that somewhere in California, sometime in the next 30 years there is an "almost certain risk" of another big earthquake. That's a big "DUH!"

This kind of crap story only causes people to do one of two things: 1) panic; 2) dismiss this and all other warnings as so much hooey.

If the experts were trying to remind Californians about the danger of earthquakes and the need to be ever prepared, well ... they failed. Just remind us now and again that it's time to swap out our water and canned goods, review our escape and survival plans, and update our contact information. We are reminded once a year to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors, and twice a year to reset our clocks. How about the same for earthquake preparedness instead of scaring the bejesus out of the faint of heart and amusing the rest of us. This is serious stuff.

Scare tactics by quake experts and "sometime/somewhere" warnings ballyhooed by the media only serves to cheapen the warnings and undermine the believability of the experts.

Today's warning was all the more poorly planned because this quake news follows Sunday night's ABC episode of "Eli Stone". The hero and a crackpot earthquake expert predict a 6.7 temblor will hit San Francisco and knock down the Golden Gate Bridge. No one believed them because they had both cried Earthquake in the past and nothing happened.

Please, don't scare us. Just remind us, calmly and deliberately from time to time, that after a major quake we will be on our own for three days or more before outside help arrives.




Update:

Current time is 6:13 P.M. 4-14/o8. At 6:00:07, 4-14.08, 13 minutes ago, a 3.4 quake has struck 6 miles NE of Desert Hot Springs, 15 miles NNE of Palm Springs. USGS.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

7 comments:

dcat said...

Oh I know and said something about it this morning at Mike H's place.

I was hoping to get a second cheaper land or a home with that info. A buyers market right? :D

Mike's America said...

It would be like saying that sometime in the next 30 years there's going to be a hurricane on the SC coast here where I live.

Gayle said...

I thought the same thing when I heard that broadcast, Indigo. I used to live in California too. You prepare for the worst but you don't live with the threat of an earthquake hitting you every day. I don't know what they expect when they broadcast news like this. A mass exodus? Not gonna happen. LOL!

Indigo Red said...

No kidding, Mike? A hurricane or 13 of them this year?

Say, Gayle, I predict here will be flooding in Texas. Look at me - I'm an expert.

Indigo Rose said...

Perhaps with the recent activity in Nevada, Californians should consider buying Nevada beachfront property! If the earth keeps chipping away at itself, than California just might fall off at the CA/NV border :-)
Wells, NV was hit by a 6.0 magnitude quake on April 11, and Mogul, NV (barely outside Reno) has had six earthquakes between Mar. 8 and Apr 14 ranging from 2.95to 3.35 magnitude.
No scare tactics there, just advice from the Nv Seismological Lab to read up on how to survive during and after a quake.

Indigo Red said...

I'm with Dad on this - the whole United States is going to drop into the ocean and all that will be left will be the Mississippi River.

Anonymous said...

California wont fall off into the ocean. It will however break away from the mainland and work its way up to Alaska where it will become a new mountain range thats a fact. On the bright side Yellowstone will probably erupt before that killing us all. Me, I'm buying beach front property on what is sure to become the Mississippi Ocean.I'm predicting that the Sun will set sometime between 7 and 8 tonight and it will do it right over the Pacific. In case you are wondering, no, I don't have ESP I'm just your average layman!