Earthquake! Along With Heavy Rain, Flooding, And Maybe A Tornado, Too — California Living Nowadays

August 20, 2023

Today is one for the books — as a rare and dangerous weather event unfolded this weekend, creating the scenario where ‘Tens of millions of people are under a tropical storm warning, the first of its kind to hit Southern California in 84 years,’ along pops a longtime natural staple for the state, an earthquake, and a biggie to boot.

According to the USGS, the shaker hit at 2:41 PM (PDST), and recorded a magnitude of 5.1, its epicenter four miles southeast of the town of Ojai, about 80 miles NW of LA:

Reportedly, several aftershocks followed, but were mild and ordinary (3.2, 3.0, etc); anything over a 4.0 is considered a biggie, and a 5.1, is pretty scary. Notwithstanding that, not much in the news coverage on damage, mostly rattling windows, knocking shit off shelves, and whatnot, with no immediate reports of significant destruction.
And like Hilary’s tropical storm, the shaker was historic, too (NBC4):

In Los Angeles, the city fire department went into Earthquake Operation mode with all 106 neighborhood fire stations conducting surveys for damage.

“This location is interesting to have it there,” said seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones. “This is first time we’ve had a 5 since 1932 in exactly this location, and even within the Ventura basin.”

Tropical storms blended with earthquakes — Maeve Reston at The Washington Post this afternoon: ‘Most of us here in Southern California were still trying to figure out whether we had enough flashlight batteries to deal with Tropical Storm Hilary when a new emergency alert popped up on our phones. “Earthquake Detected! Drop, Cover, Hold On. Protect Yourself.” It was one of those moments when you wonder about the wisdom of living in Southern California — where flash floods, wildfires, mudslides and extreme weather are an increasingly common occurrence.

Just to be on the safe side, add twisters to the mix:

Although it’s still dry, though, overcast with ash-brown clouds here in my little space of the Central Valley, Tropical Storm Hilary is still to bring heavy shit on a big chunk of southern California and parts of Nevada. In most of the communities in the area have worked to minimize destruction, storms and flooding have a way of making shit worse. And it’s not our time of the year for this shit, anyway.
Via CNN late this afternoon:

Hilary’s core – in other words, its center – is just a few hours from Southern California, but the state has been feeling the storm’s effects since early Sunday and the rainfall totals are starting to add up.

“We are not used to this level of precipitation, generally. Certainly not in the middle of summer,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria told CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday afternoon, saying he was worried about potential power outages from the wind as well as flooding. “We’re not built for this kind of rainfall.”

“With what we’re expecting, it may overwhelm us,” he added.

And from NBC News, also late this afternoon:

Palm Springs recorded 2.06 inches of rain since midnight, a record for the date, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

The record was mentioned by Gov. Gavin Newsom during a news conference today on Tropical Storm Hilary’s impacts in Los Angeles. The sun was shining when his team visited, he said, and shortly after they left, the city was deluged.

The previous record for this date in Palm Springs was .21, or about a fifth of an inch, in 2003, according to weather service meteorologist Elizabeth Adams.

The figure of 2.06 is for the day’s rain through about 4:30 p.m., she said, and much more was expected. “For the Coachella Valley, the heaviest should be in the next four or five hours or so,” Adams said.

The storm was long expected to be especially onerous for the Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs is located, as well as for other desert communities and Southern California’s inland mountain ranges.

Tonight will be a wet one. We’re expecting rain, not much, but enough to get soaked.
And just a reminder — from the LA Times on Friday and a feature on climate change and today’s weather shit:

It’s been 35 years since an explicit reference to climate change first appeared on the front page of a U.S. newspaper, after James Hansen, then director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies, testified before the Senate that “the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”

In the decades since, the effects of climate change have loomed ominously in the distance like the due date of an unpayable mortgage.

But 35 years is enough time for a mortgage to come due, for children to grow up and have children of their own, and for the long-feared consequences of a warming world to become reality.

For climate scientists, it doesn’t feel good to be proved right.

Shaking, twisting, and flooding, or not, denial may just be a river in Egypt, yet here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: ‘Earthquake,’ by Jakara Art, and found here).

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