Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Earthquakes in Oklahoma?

You've got to be kidding me. Who ever heard of earthquakes in Oklahoma, of all places.

To paraphrase a song from The Music Man: "I say there's trouble right here in Oklahoma. Trouble with a capital T. That rhymes with E and that stands for earthquakes." "T" of course, is for tornadoes, that windy spectacle of Mother Nature's glory. Folks here in the Red Man state expect a bustling tornado season each year and many have taken precautions for safety from the twisters.

Earthquakes, now -- that's another story. It seems the state has something like an average of 50 earthquakes a year, but they've generally been small by quake standards and only noticed by people near the epicenters. The weekend of November 5th and 6th changed all that with a introductory tremblor of 4.7 magnitude in the wee hours of Saturday night and then the "big one," a 5.6 quake late Saturday night. Ten or more aftershocks were felt throughout Sunday.

The bigger earthquake established a record here in the state, and wasn't far behind the magnitude of the August 2011 quake on the East Coast that produced cracks in the Washington Monument.

Fortunately, there was only one reported injury in connection with the quakes, and sadly, that was of a man who was scrambling to get outside his house and tripped and hit the wall.

Minor damage has been reported to some homes and buildings and Highway 62 buckled in three places. It turns out a conventional home owners insurance policy doesn't cover earthquake damage. A separate earthquake policy or addendum is required, as with flood insurance. Tulsa area insurance companies reported they were inundated with earthquake insurance calls. I can only begin to guess the price on it after these sizable quakes.

Seismologists have no explanation as to why these quakes occurred, so it would seem they won't be able to predict future tremblors with accuracy either. Common sense dictates that Oklahomans become familiar with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Disaster Preparedness for Earthquakes.

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