The High-Tech Texan Blog

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shakin' in CA

Whilst on vacation in SoCal I had promised not to check in too often with blogs. But at 11:42am this morning the Earth kind of changed my mind.

EARTHQUAKE! My family and I are in the Newport Beach area. Orange County (The OC, as they say). About 35 miles south of the epicenter from today's 5.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Southern California area.

We've been coming out here almost every summer for the past 14 years and I've often wondered if we would ever get lucky (is that the word I'm looking for?) of getting rattled in a quake. At some point, I figured, the numbers would catch up and this morning they did.

I had been awake for several hours already, did my morning run of about 7 miles, had a bagel and was getting ready to hit the beach. Wanting to grab all the sun I could I decided to shave. As I was slowly dragging the razor across my face - and with all the luck and hilarity of an Airplane! II: The Sequel movie - the house started to sway to and fro.

At first I thought it was the young lady in the garage apartment above us moving some furniture but I quickly remembered she had gone to work earlier in the morning. I quickly realized it must be an earthquake. The floor started to move in the same direction and at that point I turned around and quickly walked out to the living room to check on the kids.

They were still watching Nickelodeon and didn't realize what was happening. I told them to come outside with me quickly as I noticed the lamp hanging over the dining room table swaying.

As quickly as we realized the earth was moving it had stopped. Several of the homeowners across the street peeked out their doors and windows to ask the same question we all wanted to know. Was that an earthquake?

It had only lasted about 10-15 seconds and contrary to what you normally hear it did not seem to last longer. It was quick and it was relatively calm. The motion did not seem to roll the ground in several different directions, just a smooth motion forward and backward. Nothing fell from the shelves in the house nor was there panic in the streets or dogs and cats living together. Only in the movies.

We went back in the house and I changed the channel from SpongeBob Squarepants to the local news. If you think we go crazy covering a hurricane in Houston then this was teh equivalent of a typhoon and tsunami hitting Galveston. There are many more local TV stations in the LA area and every one of them had choppers in the air, seismopgraphs popping up on screen and earthquake experts monitoring aftershocks.

The last tally I heard was 24 aftershocks within a few hours of the quake with two registering at least 3.0 in magnitude.

Within 25 minutes I received a cell phone text alert from KTRH about the earthquake. I called our newsroom and gave a quick report that aired shortly after. I plan to talk live with JP and Lana Wednesday morning at 8am CST.

Realizing this wasn't the Fred Sanford quake (the BIG ONE, Elizabeth!) I gathered up the fam and hit the beach. The lifeguards in Laguna said they felt their beach stand shake for a few seconds but saw no injuries.

It's kind of funny watching the news reports as the day progressed. While we in the Houston media seemingly enjoy warning (dire I say scaring) viewers and listeners with pre-Hurricane reports, it is the exact opposite with quakes in California. Reporters are busy telling us that while most everything was OK, California "dodged a bullet" but this was just an inkling of things to come over the next decade.

Maybe we'll be here again when Sanford goes to that big junkyard in the sky.

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