Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanos, Oh My!

Living here, near the Ring of Fire, I’ve gotten the chance to learn about all kinds of things that are new to me, since I grew up in the midwest. Tornadoes: ok; thunderstorms: thrilling. But, what do you mean the earth might split open and swallow cars and buildings? Or that the sea might come rolling in, close to where I live?

I got this quiz forwarded to me from a friend, http://www.nwcn.com/sharedcontent/features/flash/quake/during.html. Try it and see how you do! Guess what…I failed it! I only got 4 out of 10 right…Looks like I need to be more on top of earthquake preparedness. Another friend I know monitors earthquakes and he’s always talking about “getting the lat/lon” and mapping the quakes.

I learned something on a catering job a year or two ago. I was catering a lunch for faculty orientation at the college nearby. An operations guy explained that if everyone heard this certain alarm, it meant to shut down computers immediately. That alarm is sounded when a volcano goes off and the wind is carrying ash this way. There are several active volcanos just across Cook Inlet from Anchorage. Volcanic ash is very abrasive and can severely damage a hard drive if it is sucked in by a computer’s fan. Likewise, it can be damaging to run a car’s engine and have that ash go into the engine. I’ve also been told not to run the windshield wipers if there is ash on my car, because volcanic ash is very similar to tiny glass particles which will scrape and gouge a windshield.

It’s a very interesting to make a visit to the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer. It monitors all the warnings and watches for the Pacific from Alaska, over to Russia, including Japan and Southeast Asia, then to Hawaii, and up the U.S. West Coast. It’s neat to go in to their small office and see the seizmographs bouncing around on the paper, showing disturbances and earthquakes all through this Ring of Fire area. They also give very good tours on Fridays. There’s usually an earthquake going on somewhere. We had two good shakers within one week on Christmas Day and a couple of days later, both which were 5’s or higher.

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