Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shakin' and Puffin'

What a week for the east coast! On Tuesday, there was a 5.8 earthquake in Virginia and this weekend, Hurricane Irene paid us a visit. We were definitely rocking and rolling!

Significant earthquakes are fairly rare in the eastern states, but the ones we do have can generally be felt over a larger area than those out west. The epicenter of this week's quake was centered between Charlottesville and Richmond Virginia but I felt it at my desk in South Carolina. The earth shook for 10 to 15 seconds, just long enough for me to consider getting up and leaving the building. This was the biggest quake I have felt on the east coast and was very different from the 6.7 trembler I felt in Sunnyvale California back in the early 1980's when I was out there training on a computer driven video editing system. This one rolled and the
one in California shook. It occurred at 3 AM with aftershocks following and this one just before 2 PM. I felt no aftershocks this week.

My office building is built into the side of a hill and for some reason that amplifies all the little earthquakes that we normally miss. I normally feel one every two weeks or so and have gotten used to them. This one was different from the very beginning. It rocked the monitors on my computers and my chair was doing "The Shimmy." I felt I was caught up in one of those hokey battle scenes from "Star Trek" where all the actors shake in their chairs as the enemy photon torpedoes broke up on the shields. There were 10 to 12 people in our section of the office and everyone spent the next few minutes making sure everyone was OK. Except for some rattled nerves everyone was fine. I posted to Facebook with my BlackBerry to see if there was anyone else out there who felt it. Sure enough I received responses from friends all over the east coast who were checking with each other in the aftermath. My West Coast friends were having a heyday, laughing at our reaction to the quake. It wasn't until about 15 minutes after the quake that the first media reports began to roll in. Blackberry Media 1 - News Media 0! Has the Internet replaced traditional media for reporting breaking stories?

But Wait! The quake wasn't all that Mother Nature had in store for us this week. As the week progressed, it became more apparent that Hurricane Irene was going to come by for a visit. Throughout the latter part of the week, we followed the "spaghetti string" models as they first predicted landfall in Florida, then Charleston, SC then Myrtle Beach, and then finally the easterly trending stopped as they swung to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was good news for us but not for the Northeastern United States from North Carolina to Maine. The impact of Hurricane Hugo which struck my city, 120 miles inland still stands out in my mind: damaged buildings, trees downand power outages lasting five days. As I write this, Irene has already passed us by and the hot dry air that always follows a hurricane has settled in. My heart goes out to those who were affected by Irene, especially those who are not used to tropical threats. Who would have thought we would see a hurricane in New York City! Oh MY!

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