When my kids, my father and I flew to Alaska to move me here permanently, there was still snow on the ground and I was in awe of Alaska's beauty. But at first there was no time to go sight-seeing. My furniture was at least 2 weeks behind me and we had packed air mattresses into our luggage so that we would have something to sleep on the first few days. Purchasing mattresses was a high priority, so on day 3, we were off to the local furniture store to check them out.
This store was a warehouse of sorts and had the fluorescent drop ceiling lights hanging from chains. The kids and I were looking at mattresses when suddenly it felt as if the floor had dropped 2 feet! It was like being in an elevator going down and having it suddenly stop. I looked at the clerk, a young girl about the same age as my college freshman daughter, and she said "I think we just had an earthquake!" My response was, "Ya think!" Ok, so the sarcasm does come out every once in a while (defense mechanism I suppose!).
In the years that have followed, I have felt many earthquakes. Alaska has roughly 50 earthquakes a day, all over the state. Most of them are so slight or so remote that no one feels them. But every once in a while we get reminded that we live in the "ring of fire" (and yes, we have volcanoes in case ya didn't know!). The way these earthquakes "feel" can be described in one of two ways:
1) The jolt described above, or
2) A long rolling feeling, a lot like that moving sidewalk that Sandy walked on in that funhouse in the final scene of the movie "Grease."
Today's earthquake was the rolling type and the feeling of it trailed for nearly a minute, which is a long time when you're sitting there, trying to figure out if you should run for a doorway or act all cool like it doesn't bother you.
Here is Anchorage Daily News' article on the event:
Earthquake rattles Southcentral
Daily News staff and wire reports
Published: August 19th, 2009 10:34 AM
Last Modified: August 19th, 2009 07:49 PM
A magnitude 5.0 earthquake under Cook Inlet rattled buildings in Anchorage and elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska this morning. There were no reports of damage.
The quake, at 10:19 a.m., was centered under Cook Inlet, 36 miles west of Anchorage, and 18 miles northeast of the village of Tyonek and 13 miles northeast of Beluga, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
It occurred at a depth of about 38 miles.
The reported magnitude of the quake has been adjusted repeatedly since it occurred. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks reported 4.97; the USGS rounded it to 5.0.
The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says the quake did not generate a tsunami.
Janelle Baker, administrative assistant and human resources manager for the Tyonek Native Corp., told The Associated Press there was no damage in her village of 154 on the northwest shore of Cook Inlet, 43 miles southwest of Anchorage.
"It was scary, especially being in the office," she said. "It was a pretty big jolt."
A dispatcher with the Anchorage Fire Department said the department had not received any calls about the earthquake, but firefighters at one station pulled trucks out of the garage because the building was shaking so much.
It appears most Alaskans took the quake in stride. Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said there were no immediate calls about the earthquake.
"I was sitting at my computer, and I said, 'Did you guys feel that?' " she told the AP.
When they said they didn't, Peters said: "I'm pretty sure that was an earthquake. My whole office shook."
Alaska is seismically active and has frequent earthquakes, although most are too small or too remote to be felt.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America, a 9.2 on the Richter scale, occurred on March 27, 1964 at 5:36 p.m., Good Friday. The Good Friday earthquake caused major destruction in the City of Anchorage and created a tsunami that destroyed the town of Valdez, which was later moved 5 miles down the coast to a safer location because there was nothing left. Please check out the link above for more information and pictures from this event.
For a real time look at earthquake activity in Alaska right now, check out the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.
And our Alaskan Daily Digest factoid of the day from the “Alaska Almanac: Facts About Alaska” :
"Experienced winter seal hunters wisely take SPAM on the polar ice pack because SPAM doesn't freeze!"