Earthquake Weather

Last Saturday, we had decidedly weird weather. Although it was supposed to be horrifically hot, sudden rain showers broke out twice, and some of the guests at the party we were at reported seeing lightning strikes without thunder. Since then, we’ve had so many wilderness fires in Northern California that every day has been hazy, and the air leaves us sneezing or with scratchy throats (though it’s not so bad IMHO that we have to stay indoors, as some people are doing.)

Anyway, as we came home from the party, my neighbor Amanda was out and she warned me that we were having earthquake weather. She had an uncle, she said, who was sensitive to it, and he’d put out the word to remain careful and aware for the next few weeks.

Now I know most people, including seismologists, don’t believe in earthquake weather. But it is a matter of serious lore among Californians. Those of us who experienced the 1989 earthquake and were outside that day remember how hot and still the weather was that day, and how it just set people on edge. It was just that irritation that had me on an early bus home (instead of staying after work with friends) that day, and as a result I wasn’t stranded in San Francisco that evening. But my sense is certainly skewed. I remember sensing earthquake weather in October of 2002, but nothing ever happened, and I didn’t feel anything before last year’s October quake.

It’s hard to describe earthquake weather, since it’s more of a sense than a description. As far as I know it, it’s hot, still weather, that’s somewhat odd for the season, and has animals (and even some people) out of sorts. It was Saturday’s weather, which was not predicted. Even the birds made themselves scarce, which disappointed Kelly, since she’d made a birdseed cookie and hung it up for our local finches.

Peter’s still skeptical, so he asked me to set the criteria, and I said it would have to be a quake strong enough for us to feel within the next week or two. So far, we haven’t had any such quake, so I’m putting Amanda’s prediction out here. She said her uncle had correctly predicted our October 2007 quake, as well as the Loma Prieta quake. If there’s something to earthquake weather, presumably we’ll know soon.

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