I was sitting at my work table this morning about 9:30 am when I noticed that it was gently shaking back and forth. I thought I was imaging things. I went for a run at 10 am and on the combi ride back in from the valley someone said that that there was a ‘tremblor’ that morning; a 7.2, the epicenter was in the state of Guerrero just south of where I live in Michoacan.

The earthquake's epicentre was in Guerrero state, northwest of the Pacific resort town of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are currently spending the Easter long weekend.

Earthquakes have always been a huge surprise to me. I usually never know at the time when one is happening. I always think my mind is playing tricks. I had felt earthquakes before in California and a couple of other places. In fact I was only 125 miles away when the big one hit San Francisco in ’89. That one hit a few minutes after 5 pm during the work commute. A buddy of mine was in denial when his BMW started bucking around and he didn’t figure out what was going on until he saw a stop sign start whipping back and forth. His cousin was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at that exact same moment and he said that the experience was so frightening he about dirtied his drawers.

I felt a small (but very close-by) 5.Something in North Carolina a few years back which tried to shake me out of bed in the middle of the night. Once again, I put it off as my imagination and didn’t learn until the next morning that it was an actual earthquake.

But I remember two that I knew unmistakeably at the time were in fact earthquakes. One was in the San Francisco Bay Area and the other one was in Tokyo. Earthquakes are like mudslides inasmuch as there you are one minute- everything is fine – and then the next minute you watch something like the whole half of a mountain come sliding down (Cajamarca, Peru ’10).

Other natural disasters are more palatable. My one and only hurricane experience was brief as we ended up leaving at the last moment. It was in Corpus Christi in the ’80s. I remember the sky turning this positively chilling color of green. Don’t get me wrong, the color was compelling beautiful. But because you knew what lay on the other side of it, well it’s a color I will always associate with horror. Imagine God on a very (very) bad day. No, no that’s not right.  Maybe it was that the color evoked the complete absence of God. That’s probably a better way to put it.

And I remember 2 tornadoes – again in S. Texas – in fact we saw one form up in the western sky. I remember that day well. It was January and my buddy, Kerry and I were coming back from wind-surfing at his place on Lake Corpus Christi. The wind was screaming and the water was cold. We were in wetsuits and kept getting blown over in the turns. Listening to the radio on the way back in it said that the wind was gusting to 42 knots; way too much for the size of our sails that day. It was late afternoon and we were just hitting the southern part of town when we saw off to the west some clouds starting to circle up and twist together. It was so mesmerizing that we pulled off the road to watch. We expected the funnel cloud to drop down onto the Valero Refinery and turn the entire city into a burning inferno but thankfully nothing of the sort happened.

Paraphrasing an old half remembered Stewart Brand quote where he said something like ‘Nature is not your friend…nature can kill you.’


PS – Oh, and CBCNews reported today’s “quake occurred along a section of the Pacific Coast known as the Guerrero Seismic Gap, a 200-kilometre section where tectonic plates meet and have been locked, meaning huge amounts of energy are being stored up with potentially devastating effects, said USGS seismologist Gavin Hayes. The last large quake that occurred along the section was a magnitude-7.6 temblor in 1911, Hayes said.

He said scientists will be watching the area more intensely because moderate quakes such as Friday’s can destabilize the surrounding sections of seismic plate and increase the chance of a more powerful temblor.

“This is really strong,” said Gabriel Alejandro Hernandez Chavez, 45, an apartment building guard in central Mexico City. “And I’m accustomed to earthquakes.”

The magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centred 400 kilometres away on the Pacific Coast.”

Great. Perfectly great. Water shortages. Beheadings. Now earthquakes. What’s next?