Friday, August 10, 2007

Will This Cause Any Problems with the Music Festival?

Scientists, in that bright and cheery way they do at times, have predicted that the Southland is in for a major major earthquake where there "will be several thousand dead and billions of dollars in damages." Seismologist and others at a conference predicted that the Coachella valley is long overdue for an earthquake: "major temblors have struck the Coachella Valley every 150 years, on average, but for reasons no one can explain, it's been quiet for 300 years." It will move the ground at almost twice as many feet per second as the Northridge Quake (which apparently had the highest ever recorded ground acceleration. Interesting.)

Will it's been a long time coming, both geologically and "personally;" the last Earthquake that I think I actually felt was the Northridge one which woke me up, brought my neighbor's wall tumbling down and broke a mirror in my house (leading to, I just realized this a few weeks ago, the next 7 years including the death of my maternal grandparents, my favorite uncle and his wife and my "dad" getting disabled in a bad car accident; yeah maybe there's something to that bad luck theory.) But it had been such a long while and I would always tell my mom, and almost lament the fact we haven't had an earthquake, like a major one in so long. Earthquakes have always been my favorite natural disaster just because I am too full of California pride, but also because they strike without the week long warning of a hurricane and when they strike its kind of cool to sway and shake; at times when they're weak enough and you're in bed it is a very soothing experience.

But what these scientists are predicting (and it's always a great sign when the word "dire" is used in a headline) is terrfiying like apocalyptic, 70's bad movie levels of destruction and chaos. The end of the world, naturally.

A likely scenario would have a magnitude-7.8 earthquake strike in the Salton Sea, extending north and west toward Palmdale. Jones predicted the shaking could last more than 100 seconds, kill thousands, destroy homes, collapse the I-10 and I-15 freeways, ignite petroleum pipelines and leave untold thousands homeless in potentially searing desert heat. The long-term effects, she said, could be akin to the economic collapse of New Orleans and the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.

"This will have long-term economic implications across the nation," she said.

It would be even worse should the quake hit during Santa Ana winds, possibly adding fires as another major element to the disaster, Jones said.

Jones said Los Angeles would not be spared. The tremendous forces released by the slipping faults would send shock waves through the earth that could easily collapse tall buildings in Los Angeles the way the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which hit near Watsonville, collapsed the Bay Bridge between Oakland and San Francisco about 50 miles away.

"This is a whole new level of disaster," she said.

Awesome. So I'm taking it that standing in a doorway won't help? And does that make me an absolutely horrible person if this kind of makes me want to stay in L.A. just so I can be in the thick of it all. I mean I would hate to move to like the East Coast just when Arizona gets a new coastline (learn to swim) and California is finally set adrift. I could never forgive myself.

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