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A Few Thoughts on my First Earthquake Experience

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM MST

NORMAN, OK -- Coming to Oklahoma to study tornadoes and severe weather, earthquakes were some of my farthest thoughts. When I woke up this past Saturday morning, I saw on the news that a 4.7 earthquake had struck overnight northeast of Oklahoma City. Figuring that since it didn't wake me up, I didn't think much of it, and just went about my day like a normal Saturday. After a great night of watching college football (the LSU - Alabama game and the Kansas State - Oklahoma State game), I started to get ready for bed.

While I was brushing my teeth, I was just casually standing there staring at myself in the mirror. I'm not really sure what caught my eye, but something didn't look quite right (and I'm the person that's spent about a combined 5 minutes in the past 10 years in front of the mirror worrying about my personal appearance). A closer look I saw the edges of things in the mirror weren't as sharp as they usually were, and an even closer look revealed very small, fine vibrations. I figured it was one of those real small aftershocks that would barely register on the seismic sensors, didn't think much of it, and stepped back and zoned out to finish brushing my teeth.

About 5 or 10 seconds later, you could start to hear this really low pitched growl that sounded very similar to the trains when they come through Norman on a still night (without the whistles of course). You knew that something was not right at all, but you couldn't really put a finger on it. That's when the main quake hit, which registered a 5.6 on the Richter Scale. It definitely caught me off guard, and I would have gone ass over tea kettle had it not been for the nice wall behind me to catch my fall. At that same instant, you start going through the thought process of all those earthquake safety videos you've seen many times, but shrugged off, knowing you would never need them.

I ended up going back out into the living room, toothbrush still in mouth, and stood in an open area right by the front door. My thought process was that nothing could fall on me there except for the house, and I had an easy escape route if things really went south. Looking back, I'm not really sure how well that would have worked, but hey, a man can dream.

The quake shook for about 30 seconds, which felt like 30 years. You could hear all the dishes and glasses rattling around in the kitchen cabinets. I was ready for my tropical plants to fall over and make a big mess all over the living room carpet. I was ready to start hearing windows and drywall breaking. I was ready for my two ceiling fans to come crashing down. But thankfully none of that happened. I went back and finished brushing my teeth and then climbed into bed, but it took me between 2 and 3 hours before I finally nodded off for the night.

So I guess the lesson that I took away from this is that those natural disaster safety tips you should definitely listen to, even though you want to dismiss them just like those airplane safety lectures. If there's anything we've learned in 2011, natural disasters can strike unexpectedly in places that don't normally have them. Take for example an EF-3 tornado in Massachusetts (June 1st), a hurricane in New York (late August), flooding in the Northeast (September), and now earthquakes in Oklahoma. After going through the 5.6 earthquake here in Oklahoma, I can't even begin to fathom what it would be like being in the big quakes like they've had in Japan and Haiti. I'll take my chances with an EF-5 tornado over that any day.


Posted In: Chase Recaps

Tagged: Earthquake, Memorable