Listening to the blessed soft patter of rain this morning (something of a rarity this year due to the crippling Texas drought), I’m struck by the surrealism of recent events. An earthquake of 5.6 magnitude shook my hometown of Lawton, OK last night. Right about the time I was Tweeting that, why yes, I was going to take advantage of that extra hour of sleep afforded by going off Daylight Savings Time. (I didn’t.) Reports of the earthquake flooded in from Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX. And I found myself logging into Facebook to see if my family was reporting it too. They were.
Luckily, it has not seemed to have caused a lot of damage, but it is scary for Okies none the less. Speaking from experience growing up there, I can tell ya – we’re used to tornadoes in the Great Plains. Not earthquakes. Houses aren’t built for that there. And as a friend on Facebook pointed out last night, thank goodness there weren’t a bunch of broken gas lines from it. That would definitely make for a very difficult winter.
Why on earth was an earthquake like that felt across so many states? Well, in reading the tectonic information available about this region, it seems that earthquakes east of the Rockies are not as deep as on the West Coast and they spread out more. Not to mention they are way less frequent. So even though the epicenter seemed to be near Oklahoma City, OK, the effect as far away as Wichita Falls, TX and Kansas City, MO was still enough to knock walls.
It’s hard to fathom that actual earthquakes of significance took place in my home state this weekend.
You gotta understand, it’s like a joke that turns out to be real. It’s not like I am not already seasoned (or the whole Comanche County residential area for that matter) to loud noises and the rumbles of the earth. Lawton resides next to Ft. Sill, where the artillery practice was so common place when I was growing up there, that no one native to the area ever thought twice about it when the ground thunder rolled. To this day, if I hear a rumble from nearby quarry, which is nothing like artillery fire, I have to think twice before it really even registers.
In Lawton, you could hear the artillery rumble approach your position, rattle store windows, etc. and then leave. I remember once as a kid when apparently one of the shells went off a little closer to town than usual and some store windows broke. Not to mention the loud chinook helicopters which seemed to make both the air and the ground rumble at the same time. We always ran outside to watch those powerful buggers fly in. All that thunder, rock and roll – not a big deal.
I spent a year of college out in LA and remember experiencing my first earthquake (5.7) Feb 1990. I didn’t notice it at first and then it felt like a long artillery rumble, lasting about 10 seconds instead of 2-3 seconds at most. There were girls around me screaming. People dashing under school desks. I stood there blinking stupidly and said “That’s it? What’s the big deal?” I was a little disappointed in the experience. My edgy classmates griped at me, asking me what would it take to impress me.
I suppose I should have had more appreciation. After all, I grew up up near the Wichita Mountains where a minor fault line does reside, complete with a seismograph somewhere out at Meers, OK, just outside of Lawton. I remember watching it for awhile at the restaurant when I was a kid. (By the way, Meers Burgers are the best!) In spite of knowing about the fault line and seeing little bumps on the monitor, there was never anything of note. The Wichita Mountains are amongst the oldest on the planet. Mt. Scott, a glorified hill to most folks, is even an ancient dormant volcano. It was like a joke.
So of course, with all this perspective, it feels strange for the “joke” to become real. They say this makes it the largest earthquake ever in Oklahoma history.
But if there’s anything that life has taught me, it’s that anything is possible, no matter how unlikely it might seem. Even a giant asteroid approaching to skim past our moon.
That’s just the way the thunder rolls.