November 17, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Two weeks ago this Saturday night, I was starting to doze off when it sounded like a semi had pulled up outside my window. Then, just as I was beginning to process what I thought was the sound of thunder in the distance, I realized my bed was shaking. And it wan't just my bed. The walls were shaking, and it seemed as though I could hear the sound of everything - and I mean everything - in my house shaking. The pictures on the walls made noise, my closet doors rattled, and it sounded like bee bee pellets were rolling across the attic.One of my cats, who had been sleeping next to me on the bed, took off for the stairs as my other cat came out from under the bed and followed in hot pursuit.

And I just lay there thinking, "So this is what an earthquake feels like." Well, that was my first thought. My second was, "We don't have earthquakes like this in Oklahoma."

Apparently, we do now.

It turned out it was a 5.6, and while there was some damage near the epicenter -- which was about 60 miles away -- it didn't do much more than rattle people (pardon the pun) around here. There had been a foreshock much earlier in the day, while most of us were asleep. A number of people I know felt some shaking during the night, and I was a little disappointed that I had slept though it. That was before we knew it was a foreshock -- I didn't even realize there was such a thing. (Blogger's spell-check doesn't know there's such a thing either.)

By Monday, as tornado warnings were in effect over parts of Oklahoma which we're accustomed to -- but not so much in November -- the joke was that we still had a few weeks left in hurricane season. Could a hurricane be next?

Not a normal Oklahoma snow!
It's been that kind of year. We had snow in February that would rival snowstorms in Chicago. As a matter of fact, the same storm hit Chicago later in the week. It actually paralyzed snow-savvy Chicago, although not nearly as long as it paralyzed us. By the following week, with close to two feet of snow on the ground, we had temperatures that would rival those in International Falls, Minnesota. Thanks to the heat island, Tulsa only got down to about 13 below at its coldest, but outlying areas were 20-30 degrees below zero.

That's not anywhere close to a normal Oklahoma winter, and I knew that did not bode well for the coming summer. Sure enough, July and August brought temperatures that would rival those in Death Valley. My sister pointed out to me long ago that whenever we have extremely hot summers, they are either preceded or followed by extremely cold winters...and vice versa. I pulled my phone out and called her at her home in Minnesota one afternoon in August when I got into my car and the thermometer read 125 degrees. It was a rare summer in that it seemed few people had tans because no one wanted to spend time in the sun, and even a fake tan was too. much. trouble. Area lakes brought no comfort because the heat and the drought (oh, yeah, we're still in the midst of a drought) combined to cause algae to grow on at least 3 of the nearby lakes. Yuck.

While we have the occasional colder-than-normal winter, the occasional hotter-than-usual summer, and even the occasional drought, this year's extremes exceeded anything I've ever experienced in Oklahoma. While we have the occasional record-breaking snowfall, this year's snow totals broke records for the entire season. It was particularly jarring in that most of it came over a 10-day period. And while we're used to tornadoes and the uncertainty they bring to our lives, we were stunned when a large portion of Joplin was destroyed just across the state line on Mothers Day.

But the earthquake was different. While a 5.6 is big for Oklahoma - the biggest ever recorded in the state - it doesn't compare to earthquakes in California, or Japan, or Turkey, or Chili, or any of the other places that have experienced much larger earthquakes. It didn't kill anyone, or cause anything more than minor injuries. It damaged some homes and buildings, but it didn't destroy large portions of cities, or take out entire neighborhoods. It was different largely because it wasn't something we're used to dealing with. There was an aftershock a couple of nights later that was the same magnitude as the foreshock, a 4.7, but it came early enough in the evening that most of us felt it. It wasn't as loud, and it didn't last long, but it sure got our attention.

As the ground stopped shaking and as I realized my second experience with an earthquake was over, I thought about how God sometimes reaches into our lives and shakes things up to get our attention. And while that can be a little scary, it can also be an earthquake.

I just hope he doesn't have a 6.0 up his sleeve. ;-)

Until next time,

"I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory," says the Lord Almighty. ~ Haggai 2:7


  1. Margaret, there you are!

    Yes, all of these unusual weather patterns, more unusual than usual, certainly give every thinking person reason to pause.

    Gotta love those cats of yours, eh? They bail faster than the disciples in the garden.

    Now don't be gone so long, please?

  2. In my home state of Virginia they also had an earthquake this year! I had never, ever heard of an earthquake in Virginia. Strange!

    Hope the weather improves for you in 2012

  3. Actually Margaret, you might want to keep an eye on your cats. Our little feline friends are notorious for being one of the best earthquake early warning systems - sometimes days before the actual event. I speak from ten years in Los Angeles and learning to observe some strange foreshadowing behavior - everything from hiding in weird places or attempting to run away from home to excessive howling for no reason. What sometimes happens is they pick up on electromagnetic sound waves that occur before a shift in a plate. Let's hope your little guys don't exhibit anything unusual.

  4. it was crazy, scary, and exciting all at once. we've had
    enough after shocks now, that i imagine them all the time.
    great post!! i have missed you here.