Saturday, April 11, 2009

Earthquake weather: When the earth runs hot and cold

(Photos are of earthquake damage from Loma Prieta and 1906, baby Mena's wallet-sized photos, me inspecting earthquake damage in my neighborhood, sunshine on a rose in my back yard, my bottled water supply, C-rations and family photos I have ready to garb and run with in case another Big One hits.)

I'm sure that everyone who has ever lived in California has experienced that kind of weather where you walk around in T-shirts and cut-offs during the day and then wake up at night so cold that you gotta go turn on the electric blanket. That kind of weather is earthquake weather. And I figured this out all by myself. Living in California does that to you.

Remember the massive San Francisco earthquake back in 1906? On Wednesday, April 18, 1906 at 5:12 am -- 7.8 on the Richter scale? On the day before the quake struck, the weather had been hot during the day, but around 11 pm that evening the thermometer had dropped fast and hard -- and then BAM. SF got hit by the Big One. Earthquake weather.

And remember 1989? The Loma Prieta quake? On October 17, 1989 at 5:04 pm, 6.9 on the Richter scale. Me, my son Joe and my daughter Ashley had spent a glorious day playing outside in the sunshine but the night before that it had been cold. I remember that Joe, who had been ten years old at the time and a big fan of Will Clark and the San Francisco Giants, had been tossing a baseball around in front of where we lived. Ashley was about two or three years old back then and was happily toddling around smelling flowers while I sat on a bench and enjoyed the late afternoon sun. Cold the night before? Hot that day? World Series weather. Earthquake weather.

Then there was that horribly disastrous earthquake in Italy on April 6, 2009, and the May 12, 2008 7.6 earthquake in China and the 8.4 Alaska earthquake on March 27, 1964 and the Pakistan 7.6 earthquake on October 8, 2005 and the Daly City quake of March 22, 1957. Although the Daly City quake was only a 5.3 on the Richter scale, I can still remember it. Some stuff fell off a shelf and scared the heck out of Snowball, my cat. I was a junior at Capuchino High School at the time. The day before had been very sunny and I had walked home from school.

Here's my theory: When it's hot during the day but cold at night, the earth's surface expands and contracts too quickly for its own good -- and then Voila! Atlas shrugs. Someone should graph a chart. Spring and fall. Weather extremes. Earthquakes.

But Jane," you might say, "what about all those famous earthquakes that took place during winter?" You mean like the Northridge quake on January 17, 1994? Or the Iran earthquake of December 26, 2003, the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami on December 26, 2004, the January 16, 1995 quake in Kobe, Japan and the February 28, 2001 in Olympia, Washington? I am sure that there have been several famous earthquakes that have taken place in wintertime -- although admittedly I couldn't find any mentioned on Google that have taken place in the summer.

However, before you consider discarding my fabulous new theory about earthquakes altogether, please take a look at weather conditions immediately preceding each of these winter quakes -- and I'm pretty sure that you will discover that there was an unusual fluctuation in temperatures before each quake took place.

For instance, let's look at the Northridge earthquake. When the then-Los Angeles Raiders played the Denver Broncos on January 9, 1994, the temperature in L.A. was 70 degrees at game time -- 4:00 pm. January is like that in California. One moment it's freezing and then two hours later it's hot.

So. What's my point? My point is that it is springtime right now -- hot during the daytime and cold at night. And just in case my theory IS correct, now would be a good time to start stocking up on canned food and bottled water. Or, if you work for AIG or Goldman-Sachs and are all bucks-up from the bail-ou, you could fly off to someplace else where there's always endless summer. Afraid of earthquakes? Avoid them by staying only in summer-like locations and migrating around like the birds.

PS: I took my granddaughter Mena up to Hilltop Mall today to get her photograph taken. I now have wallet-size photos to show anyone I can force to stand still long enough for me to get out my wallet. Plus it was a warm spring day and there was a carnival midway there and baby Mena scooped a rubber ducky out of the water with a lucky number on its bottom and won a stuffed bear. And if it's cold tonight and we do end up having a quake, I can show off Mena's photo to the search and rescue team. I'm prepared!

PPS: All my life I've had very low blood pressure -- 90 over 50 or less. And today it just dawned on me that this might be a bad thing -- that my low blood pressure might be why I've always been so tired all the time -- I'm not getting enough blood up to my brain! So I did some research and guess what? There are something like 100,000 pages on Google about what to do about high blood pressure but almost nothing at all about how to cure low blood pressure. "Eat some salt." That's about it. "Drink beet juice." Where the freak am I going to get beet juice?

Does anyone out there have any suggestions about what to do about LOW blood pressure?