Chile Shakes and New England Quakes

Posted: 28/02/2010 in disasters, earthquakes, Uncategorized, weather
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chile shakes, rattles and rolls while New England quakes under another blanket of heavy snow and high winds……

It has been a busy time for preparedness and emergency folks over the last week of February, hasn’t it? What with the big snow storm, which really wasn’t so big and the earthquakes down in Chile, there wasn’t much time to dream of preparing for the big one. For many, the big one can in style.

The snowstorms dumped a lot of snow in some places, relatively speaking, but the reality is that 20″ of snow isn’t actually that bad for most folks. You can still drive around if you have experience and decent tires, and a yearning for adventure. The problem is, most people don’t have the capacity to drive in snow with the vehicles produced today.

Lightweight bodies and all season radials may be good for everyday driving, and work ok when it is slick with light snowfall, but the cars are not heavy enough, and the tread on today’s tires isn’t aggressive enough to get the traction one needs to drive safely in a snowstorm.

The storm’s damage crept through the northeast and northward Friday, after closing the schools in New York city for only the ninth time since 1982. Imagine that? And outages increased in New Hampshire as the storm traveled on. Approximately 265,000 customers of Public Service of New Hampshire were without power by Friday night, — an increase of more than 40,000 homes and businesses from when the day started. As areas still grappled with fallen trees, damaged lines and impassable roads the scene continued to deteriorate. Conditions were similar in Maine, which reported 138,000 customers without power. But with more than 70 roads closed or impassable (some 30 inches fell in the western mountains), according to Lynette Miller of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, repairs were slow and often treacherous for employees.

Here in Maine, thousands were still without power Saturday night, with many not expected to be returned to service for several days.


Perhaps a bigger news story was the major earthquakes reported from Chile. Starting with a reported 8.8 magnitude quake on early Saturday morning, eastern time, the weekend rock and rolled around the world with one quake after another rattling the South American country. Chile has seen at least magnitude 6.0 or above quakes along with dozens of smaller ones in the 5.0 to 6.0 magnitude range, according to the USGS. Also, we can add to the concern the areas of Ryuku Islands, off of Japan, where they’ve had three or more, Eastern Honsu, Japan; Northern Sumatra, Indonesia,; off the coast of Ecuador; Mendosa, Argentina; the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan; the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge; and Salta, Argentina, who’ve all had one or more 5.0 0r above earthquake during this same time frame.

I might be wrong here, but this seems to be out of the norm, at least for everyday earthquake activity. Especially considering the magnitude. Earthquakes occur all over the world on a daily basis, bit this is a lot for any one region, no matter how you look at it. Why is that?

The US and Canada felt at least ten earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or above, with none over 4.0. many were in California and Alaska, but there were some in Canada a few hundred miles to the northwest of Lake Champlain. There was also one(4.4 Magnitude) centered in Oklahoma, near Sparks.

Just goes to show that these things can show up at a party like an unwanted relative. There’s no way to predict when or where an earthquake will strike, but how many of us are prepared for the moment when one does strike?

I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that there may well be a 7.0 magnitude or above in the wings for Los Angeles in the very near future. With the South American Tectonic Plate obviously on the move, it can’t bide well for the San Andreas fault line.

If an earthquake does occur where you are at, what should you do? Here’s what FEMA suggests you do during an earthquake:

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

If outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.


Let’s hope I’m wrong that we won’t see the San Andreas throw a hissy fit and create havoc with a quake to shake LA in the next two weeks.


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