Saturday, January 13, 2007

Things That Go Bump In The Night

There's an old story that I've read in more than one novel set in rural England before the 19th century:
A man comes home from a journey and asks his servant if anything happened while he was gone.
"The dog died, master."
"How did the dog die?"
"In the fire, master."
"What fire?"
"The barn burned down, master."
"How did the barn burn down?"
"The candles at your wife's funeral, master."
I've never seen it go farther than this; but as a slow revelation of disaster I've always thought it was blackly funny.

I had a "what happened while I wasn't looking" moment this morning on the Internet. We're having a cold snap here in California, the worst in 10 years - maybe the worst in 20. (All of you having ice storms in Texas and Missouri, just quit sniggling. 24 degrees Fahrenheit is cold for a seaside town, even if you're colder.) So the first thing I did when I brought my computer up was to check the National Weather Service site, to check last night's low. (It was 24 degrees.) And the first thing I saw when I checked the special weather statement was, "the tsunami watch for the central California coast has been removed."

Tsunami watch? Why are we having a tsunami watch? You already know, of course, about the 8.2 earthquake in the Kuril Islands at 20:24 PST on January 12 (that would be last night), but at 9 AM this morning, I didn't. Now, of course, the tsunami warning makes sense; and I'm just grateful that all we had was a tsunami watch, and not another disaster like last year's little Christmas present.

8.2 is a helluvan earthquake, folks; it's roughly the estimated magnitude of the 1906 San Francisco quake, and according to Wikipedia is the equivalent of a gigaton of TNT. Nobody seems to have died in this one, which means the human race dodged a biiiiig bullet. Happy New Year.

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