5.6 magnitude earthquake centered 40 mi. ENE of Oklahoma City this evening. It was felt at our home in Wichita to the north and in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex to the south. There is a report of some minor damage in southern Kansas but the extent is unknown at this time.

The 5.6 is the strongest earthquake in the history of Oklahoma. A 5.2 occurred near Prague (pronounced PRAY-ga) this morning.

UPDATE: Just got a reliable report that it was felt in St. Louis.

UPDATE 3: Lincoln Co. (OK) emergency management says “significant” damage there.

the “eyes” have it

UPDATE 2: Kirk Herbstreit, in Stillwater covering the Kansas State-OSU game, feels the earthquake live. As Chris “Boomer” Berman would say, LETS GO TO THE TAPE!

UPDATE 4: KJRH TV, Tulsa, reports from Lincoln Co.:

Lincoln County Emergency Management is reporting significant damage in the southern parts of the county.  In some cases chimneys have collapsed through the roofs of homes.  Damage to the Prague library includes collapsed air condition ducts and a collapsed wall.

Several roadways have buckled, including Highway 62 and other county roads.

UPDATE 5: Here is a map from the U.S. Geological Survey that is color coded by the amount of ground shaking that could be felt. The lighter greens and yellows are areas where damage may have occurred.

UPDATE 6: USGS has reports of the earthquake being felt more than 1,000 miles away.
Click here to see the list. 
UPDATE 7 (and last): Just got a Tweet asking me what I thought about earthquake insurance. I have it. While it is inexpensive, it has a large deductible. Nevertheless, Kathleen and I think it is worth it because we  don’t want to have to completely finance a major rebuilding of our home. The cost versus benefit seems positive to us. 
Welcome new readers! When things calm down, please feel free to look around the blog. 

Disaster Preparedness for Earthquakes

Are we prepared? Short answer: No. 

Can the government adequately respond? Absolutely not.
That is why I recommend to everyone they keep supplies and a disaster kit at home and keep your auto fuel tank at least half full.  When “the big one” occurs, it is likely you’ll largely be on your own.  
Entire article is here

First Aftershock

The first aftershock was reported 10-15 min. ago. As expected, it was not as large as the original quake. Getting Facebook reports from D.C. it was felt there.

How to Prepare for Aftershocks

Via Facebook, I was asked by reader Reynolds: Can you give us info regarding aftershocks (to the earthquake) and how to prepare?

Excellent question:

  • Other than collapse, the biggest danger in an earthquake is fire. Walk around your home or business now and sniff for gas. Exit immediately if you smell gas. 
  • If you do not smell gas, there is a chance of a gas leak or rupture if an aftershock occurs. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and your home fire extinguisher is charged and near your bed. 
  • Take fragile or precious objects off high shelves and put them in drawers or sturdy furniture or on the flood where nothing (including light fixtures) will fall on them. You don’t want anything “top heavy” as it will likely fall in a significant earthquake, original or aftershock. 
The good news is that aftershocks, while likely, are rarely as strong as the original quake.
Thanks for the question!

Earthquake News

There is a ground stop (meaning no planes can take off or land) at Washington Reagan and NYC’s JFK due to the earthquake. I’m sure it will be short-lived just until they can inspect the runways, etc.

Speaking of Chicago (ORD), there are 15 minute delays due to the thundershowers moving out of the area.  However, more thunderstorms are likely later today.

Pentagon was not evacuated, some people ran outside that is all. Things normal now.

Favorite Tweet: “Local TV station interviews earthquake ‘victims’ forced to stand outside in sunny, 80° weather.”

Least Favorite Tweet: From Howard Kurtz (who presents himself as objective), “How long until Republicans blame the quake on Obama?” How about focusing on whether anyone was hurt by the quake, Howard?

Via FEMA; Stay Off Cell Phones

Got a Twitter from the head of FEMA, please stay off your cell phone unless it is an emergency if you are in the earthquake area. The cell service is overwhelmed and important calls cannot go through.

Let me personally add that the advice should also pertain to the hurricane evacuation zones, if any, as Irene approaches.  

Earthquake in the East

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake, centered in Virginia, southwest of Washington, D.C., occurred at 2:04pm EDT.

The quake was strongly felt in D.C. and as far away as central Pennsylvania.

VIA , the quake was felt as far away as Massachusetts.

Japan Before and After

Here is a graphic from NOAA and the Department of Defense that shows the areas without power the night after the earthquake and tsunami (at right).

Click to enlarge. 

New Earthquake Research

Seismologists have revived a longstanding question in the wake of recent earthquakes: Can a giant temblor in one location trigger another large one thousands of miles away?

A new study provides the first compelling evidence that such big, distant events—which may appear to be linked when they occur within months of each other—are likely not connected at all.

I was surprised by this result. A new study on earthquakes reported on in today’s Wall Street Journal. Subscription may be required.

Lessons to Be Learned from Earthquake and Tsunami

An great, non-technical article, from an MIT Engineer on what we can learn from the Japanese experiment with the quake and tsunami.  I fear he is correct when he says,

But I wouldn’t bet on the authorities taking the right action. Time and again, all over the world, settlements that have been destroyed by a natural disaster are simply rebuilt in exactly the same place. That’s what happened in the Thai beach resorts devastated by the 2004 tsunami, and it’s also what happens on an almost routine basis in certain parts of the United States. Low-lying properties on the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard are destroyed by seasonal hurricanes and rebuilt over and over again, often with the help of financial incentives from the U.S. government.

"Nothing Succeeds Like Failure"

In Warnings, I devote a fair number of words about the dysfunctional culture of Washington, D.C. where “nothing succeeds like failure.” Translated for those outside the Beltway, it means that there is usually no money for proactive programs that can prevent problems. But, when a problem (preferably, a large problem) occurs, the money flows like water.

Here is a new example, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, talking about the geohazard threat to the U.S. in wake of the Japanese earthquake+tsunami+nuclear issues:

But here’s the reality check: Under the White House’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, the U.S. Geological Service would experience a 9% cut in its earthquake programs budget.
Another crucial federal agency is this regard is NASA. Its orbiting satellites can monitor movement of the Earth’s surface with exquisite fidelity. Properly equipped, they could identify elastic strain in tectonic plates (which will inevitably be released in earthquakes) and moving magma in the Earth’s crust (which can lead to volcanic eruptions). These satellites also have global sweep and promise to provide highly detailed maps of post-disaster devastation spanning hundreds or even thousands of miles. They could even track oil slicks after drilling accidents.

But at present, the U.S. doesn’t have a radar satellite with the appropriate imaging characteristics for these applications. In fact, the National Research Council has said that a U.S. radar mission, the DESDynI radar satellite, should be a top priority for NASA. In addition to helping us mitigate against earthquakes and the like, such a mission would also revolutionize our ability to predict the fate of the polar ice caps and monitor carbon stock held in the Earth’s biomass.
The DESDynI mission was well along in the planning stages at NASA, with funding provided in the 2010 and proposed 2011 budgets and a realistic launch date set for 2017. But in the White House’s 2012 budget proposal, all funding for the DESDynI radar satellite mission was cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Read the entire article. I virtually guarantee that if there is, for example, an inadequately warned-of volcanic eruption in the Sierra or Cascades, Congress and the Administration will rush to write blank checks. So, how about going ahead and funding these projects now? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This is What You Get When You Put A Railroad Engineer in Charge of the International Panel on Climate Change

I have already commented on the silly people trying to blame the Japan earthquake and tsunami on global warming.

But, the head of the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, an ex-railroad engineer (with no training in atmospheric science), should know better. He told the world that the tsunami was 17cm (6.7″) higher because of ‘global warming.’

Click to enlarge. Courtesy: Anthony Watts, WattsUpWithThat

See the tiny purple bar in the far lower left corner of the illustration? That is 17cm versus the height of the tsunami (at right). The vertical black bar in the center is the height of the Fukushima Reactor. The idea that 17cm made any difference is absurd.

But, lets assume, for just a moment, that 17cm would have made a difference. If you click on the purple link above, he connects global warming to sea level rise.  Here is a graph of sea level change (sea level has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age) for the last 100+ years.

Sea level rise since 1880. The red at the end is the rise as
determined by satellites. It is approximately the same
as the long term trend measured from tide gauges.

See any big increase recently when ‘global warming’ was occurring (1978-1998)? Didn’t think so. The rate of sea level change has been more or less constant for 130 years no matter how it is measured.

To sum up: There is no indication ‘global warming’ is affecting sea level rise. Even if it had, 17 cm. (6.6 inches) would not have made any difference. Any meteorologist or oceanographer would have known this. This is the — very large — problem of having non-atmospheric scientists and even non-scientists in these high positions in the global warming movement.

Media Priorities

The Royal Wedding countdown clock, photographed from NBC’s Today show this morning. 

“CNN alone will have a team of roughly 400 reporters, cameramen and crew assigned to the wedding. The network has 50 people on the ground working on the breaking news in Japan.”

More here