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  1. coloradohermit
    coloradohermit November 30, 2018 5:34 pm

    I’m glad to hear that the tsunami warning is cancelled! I’ve been thinking of you and wondering if you were going to need that updated go bag.

  2. larryarnold
    larryarnold November 30, 2018 7:00 pm

    From what I saw, the tsunami warning was only for a narrow bay in Alaska.

  3. Claire
    Claire November 30, 2018 7:03 pm

    Thanks, coloradohermit. If the big one hits closer to home (and someday it will), I hope I’ll be intact enough to use that bag. But where I am — a bit inland, though on tidal waters — I don’t think an Alaskan quake would have much tsunami power even if it were way bigger than the ones today.

    And as larryarnold notes, the tsunami warning was strictly Alaska-local this time.

    People were killed on the U.S. mainland coast by tsunamis after both the 1964 Alaska quake and the 2011 quake in Japan. But it would take a tsunami of prehistoric proportions to do much damage where I live.

    I’m superstitious about those waves, though. I love the ocean, but you’ll seldom find me there.

    I’m just glad the people in Alaska didn’t have to deal with a tsunami on top of all the quake damage. Damn, it sounds as if those folks have had shocks and aftershocks all day long.

  4. Claire
    Claire November 30, 2018 7:06 pm

    Kevin Wilmeth — If you’re still out there reading this blog, I hope you’ll let us know how you’re doing. Last I recall, you weren’t that near Anchorage, so I’m hoping all’s well.

  5. Kevin Wilmethth
    Kevin Wilmethth December 1, 2018 12:09 am

    Greetings Claire. Yup, still here, mostly lurking these days, with a very occasional post at Rifleman Savant (and many more at Craftygrass, I’m happy to say).

    The short story is that we’re good. Today’s was certainly a no-joke rumble, but we had it much easier than the folks up in the Anchorage Bowl and the Mat-Su Valley (about a hundred miles north as the raven flies), in terms of damage.

    It was interesting to observe others’ responses today. My wife told me that from her optic at home, the town of Homer was a little melodramatic about things, out in the YouTwitFace sphere. This is both at least a bit true to character for the town, and of course it’s also often generally true of social media, in the sense of “it’s not where you go to care about things, but where you go to be seen caring about things”. Anyway it struck her as a bit extra-thick today, and she’s pretty solid about those kinds of perceptions.

    Where I was, with my fellow IT department folks an hour and a half away, I found it interesting that we picked up a lot of chatter about a claim of expected aftershocks of greater magnitude than the original quake, at a very specific time (centered around 3pm local). Now this is clearly bullshit; although it is certainly possible that we could have an M7 preliminary before something really huge, it is both unlikely and in no way reliably predictable. It’s a sad statement on our current times that my first thought was that someone could be deliberately testing the waters within a nascently weaponized social media toolkit. Or it could just be some yahoo talking out of his ass, who knows. Anyway, interesting.

    Of course we just got on with our work, and at home my wife said she and the kids spent most of the day geeking out about earthquakes, with the girls (now 9 and 7) asking lots of good questions as they usually do. (Note that the fact that we were each able to do this meant that all comms were still up and available, uninterrupted.) Being able to do things like this is one of the things we enjoy most about our part-homeschooling-part-unschooling practice, and it sounds like it was much more productive than the cattle-herding exercise all the brick-and-mortar kids had to go through, once the tsunami warning was issued.

    And that warning was weird anyway. Given the epicenter’s location I’m still a bit puzzled as to where anyone thought a tsunami was going to come from, but I also haven’t spent any time looking that up, either…but my wife did make the interesting comment that the way it was handled seems like it will almost guarantee a “cry wolf” problem downstream somewhere. She’s got a point…everyone understands the impulse to err on the safe side, but these sorts of disruptions are memorable for parents, and I do agree that there will be a point of diminishing returns, where at the end of the day, people’s takeaway isn’t going to be recognizing the value of a drill, but rather the annoyance of another overreaction. Again…interesting.

    We’ll see what the aftermath is, of course, but I’d remind anyone checking in to remember what you probably already know: always expect the national outlets to Laimbeer it up. ADN is often pretty good at the local stuff, and the worst of this actually is local to Anchorage. 🙂

  6. Kevin Wilmethth
    Kevin Wilmethth December 1, 2018 12:10 am

    Also possibly of interest: I may be doing delightfully little of the YouTwitFace thing these days, but nonetheless, just posted the following there to assuage anyone with an overdeveloped startle response:


    Thanks to all concerned about today’s big jiggle. In short, all is well for us. Cathy and the kiddos were together at the breakfast table when it happened; today, as it happens, I was already 70mi north at the district office in Soldotna, with the IT crew–a good group to be with at such a moment, I’m happy to report.

    For us in both locations, it was certainly substantial, but not unprecedented–we do, after all, live rather right on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Anchorage folks seem to have had it much worse than those of us on the Kenai, although even then it seems like the news outlets have overly generalized those impressive pictures of the worst damage. (I’ve not validated this myself, but the way I heard it, the red vehicle featured stranded on the improvised “island” of pavement in the pictures of the Minnesota / International Airport interchange damage…is from Homer. Somehow, that seems fitting. 🙂

    Anyway, there seems to be a lot to clean up from this one, especially in the Anchorage Bowl and the Mat-Su Valley, but I’m just happy to hear that the tsunami scare turned out to be a false alarm. We ourselves should be pretty darn insulated from tsunami, but we know good people on the coast all the way out to the Russian villages in the east and the native villages across the water, and even in Seward (which would be a serious place to be, in the event of a real wave) and we’re happy for them.

    Being a native-born Texican and all, I still, even ten years on now, haven’t quite come to peace with this notion that the ground may not stay put all the time, but it is something that does happen around here, and we’re always gratified to report back that when the time came, we were pretty well prepared to sustain far worse than we got.

    Best wishes to everyone!

  7. E. Garrett Perry
    E. Garrett Perry December 1, 2018 12:57 am

    The dearest of my Dear Old Girlfriends was in her apartment-block stairwell on the way to work when the quake started, and spent the next lifetime curled up in a corner screaming and getting seasick while the building rocked and rolled.

    In the end, one picture fell off the wall. Didn’t even crack a window. As it turns out, Alaska and Alaskans have put serious thought into earthquake- and tsunami-proofing since the 60s. Large buildings are built on huge shock-absorbers, and the whole assembly mounted atop gigantic roller bearings. Since the discovery of the Lituya Bay landslide/mega-tsunami, there’s been a lot of work going into early warning and evac systems as well. Only problem being, as this quake showed, it’s damned hard to go anywhere in a hurry when the roads are demolished.

  8. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2018 6:42 am

    Kevin — I’m so glad you checked in, and with such fascinating reports, too. I’m just sorry your comments sat all night needing moderator approval. Sigh.

    Yeah, the media and disasters; what can you say? I remember in the Loma Prieta quake (when my parents lived in the area and I was awaiting word), the teevee kept showing one horrendously pancaked and burning apartment building in San Francisco’s Marina district and several collapsed spans of bridge and elevated highway around SF. Knowing my folks were much closer to the epicenter, I’m thinking maybe the reason I can’t get through to them or they to me is that the area they’re in has been totally destroyed and nobody from the media can even reach it yet. Turns out they and everything around them were virtually untouched (being on better ground than those dramatically ruined SF locations). But the media couldn’t bother to report conditions anywhere but where the optics were the most terrible.

    Since then I’ve noticed that, again and again, the media will show the same handful of locations after most every disaster — the most buckled highways, the most tumbled brick structure. Which of course they would. But they make no attempt to tell the honest scope of the “event.” Now, it’s a shame that social media, instead of giving a broader picture, seems to magnify the OMG factor.

    I’m glad you and yours are well and that your kids are now going to be “earthquake geeks.”

  9. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 1, 2018 11:56 am

    Ha! Given that I’m an hour behind you, and you yourself are 1-3 hours behind the rest of the US, I sure wasn’t expecting any sort of quick turnaround there. 🙂

    Funny you should mention the Loma Prieta quake. I was working as a hasher in a Stanford dining hall when it happened*, and it still amazes me to reflect on how bad the information was that we got, “on the inside”, when it happened. On reflection, I’m actually fairly pleased at how I myself, and we as a serving and cleanup crew, handled the thing. I was nearly falling-down exhausted that day, and when the rumble first hit my first instinct was “dumbass, can’t even keep your own feet…teach you to get more sleep”, but then when I looked up and saw the baronial dining hall’s chandeliers swinging in five-foot arcs, that changed pretty instantly. (It was then, too, that I looked outside in the courtyard and saw said yard…rippling.) All the adult staff had already left, and it was just us student workers cleaning up, but I remember turning around, looking at a fellow worker, and at the same time we both said, “The gas!” From that point we had purpose, and there wasn’t really any fear; we busied ourselves with buttoning up the dining hall. After 10-15m we turned a battery radio on to get information, and aside from speakers’ general sense of panic you could pick up both from tone and content, pretty soon we heard these words:

    “…The Bay Bridge collapsed…” It was not a sentence excerpt; it was a complete, standalone sentence.

    It was that which nearly made me sick. Given what we had witnessed ourselves, it was not difficult at all to imagine the entire bridge over and in the water, and…ugh.

    I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I was able to get not just one but two phone calls out, to my family and my distant girlfriend back in Texas, and that was how I learned that it was not the whole bridge, but just the little section of upper-deck that collapsed onto the lower deck.

    This was a defining moment for me, in re my understanding and sense of validating information. The sources we were hearing, giving such bad information, were both national outlets and some local on-air news. We probably had got the worst information of anyone in the country, while right there in the middle of interrupted comms and panicky reportage. Later of course we got updated intel, and could map that more explicitly to what we had heard.

    Quite an education; I still remember some parts of it quite vividly. I suspect, if I think about how deep the lessons run, that it was an important step along the way to liberating myself completely from the Satist Beer Goggles that I was so carefully taught to love, for so many years. 🙂

    *Yes, I have been in the belly of the beast. My freshman year there was the last year of what used to be called “Western Civ” curriculum, and I chose the track that featured us reading whole books, rather than anthologies. I remember well the sense of the new coming curriculum (when we still called it “political correctness” rather than “social justice”) being forced on us, but I got lucky in that the “Great Books” track…still mostly was. Even then, that course featured one of three discussion patterns: 1) me vs. everyone in the class, 2) me and one other guy vs. everyone in the class, and 3) no discussion for test day.

    Stanford did indeed teach me many things–if not exactly what the school wanted me to learn. 😀

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