Sunday, February 05, 2006

Earthquake II

Had the unsettling experience this morning of waking up to the bed jumping up and down as the bookshelf banged against the wall. High winds and warming had already sent huge slabs of snow on a 25-foot freefall from roof to ground throughout the night, but this was a much more prominent, much more sustained rumble. I couldn't tell what time it was, because the power had gone out several times already, and didn't even know what was happening in the black, inexplicable turbulence of it all. But either this Alaskan acclimation thing happens fast, or I'm more apathetic in the early morning than I even knew. Either way, I just thought "well, it's either an earthquake or an avalanche or the volcano finally blew its top over the entire Bay." Then I went back to sleep.

Turns out it was the former. At 7:15 a.m., a 5.3 earthquake hit about 18 miles south of Homer. A minor earthquake by damage standards, but large enough to be felt by people more than a hundred miles from here. And large enough to eclipse the all-time largest earthquakes of at least 10 states, according to a quick Internet search I did, including New Jersey and Indiana. OK. Not that impressive. Still, I hope this isn't a pattern that continues. Judging by the ruckus the bookshelf was making this morning, I think a 6-magnitude earthquake might just send it through the floor.

Geoff and I went snowshoeing this afternoon right before the Souper Bowl, which we missed the end of anyway in order the catch a movie (I actually missed pretty much the entire thing. It's amazing how much time a person can spend reading the Sunday paper when they're really locked into it.) Snow was deep and untrammeled, so it was a great workout for calves and quads. But the snowpack was warm and settling fast, which made for scary whoomps and thumps below our feet. At one point we watched a distinct fracture form across the gully we were trekking through. The hills around here are really mild as far as hills go, but you have to wonder - what could little avalanches do?

Little avalanches, little earthquakes. It's hard to keep on top of it all. At least one natural force is carrying out according to my evil plan. It's currently 37 degrees in Wasilla, where, as I type, the snow on the Iditarod trail is melting and settling and packing in tight beneath the weight of snowmobiles. If only the minor warmth keeps up for a few more days ... followed by the return of a deep freeze before oh, say Feb. 13 or 14 ... followed by clear, cold, sunshiney days with no new snow. Think I could will it so? It's worth a try.