15 Years of Earthquakes

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends with my day job on Brooklyn Nine Nine and coming home at night and developing a project. It’s proven to be a tough and an extremely rewarding past year. But left in the background has been this writing project. I started it after walking away from the wake of Hurricane Katrina and felt too many of my friends and colleagues in Los Angeles aren’t prepared for a natural disaster right here at home. I felt the need to push them to get a 72 hour bag and get supplies for their homes.

It’s been a while since we’ve had any significant event here in SoCal so it hasn’t been on many peoples minds. This morning I found this video issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. It compiles 15 years of earthquakes worldwide and shows them in mere minutes. It’s worth a look and as I watched I noticed two things: you can really see the borders of the tectonic plates and the absolute absence of any major shaking in the SoCal area. This is what still alarms me, because it really means we are over due.



Back in 2009 I had read about a theory one seismologist was using to predict earthquakes. It was on the fringes of science and most reputable seismologists discredited it but it intrigued me so I strapped on my tin foil hat and ran my own calculations.

The theory took calculations between three main things: the distance from the Earth to the Sun, the distance from the Earth to the Moon and the size of the tides generated during that period. The greatest strain on the tectonic plates is when the Earth Moon and Sun are completely in line with each other and the risk of earthquake diminishes as the moon and sun move off this axis. When the moon is at a 90º from the sun the effect is lessened.



The biggest problem with this theory is that the Sun is only at it’s closest position to the Earth during the North American winter which means earthquakes would only happen during the winter…. But, lets say that this is only one small contributing factor to an earthquake and perhaps it has some validity…

So thinking along those lines in October of 2009 I strapped on my tin-foil hat and got to work. After doing some research and crunching some numbers I came up with a date: April 11, 2010. I put it down in my iPhone calendar and told my wife who is used to me coming up with crazy ideas to put it into her datebook as well so I would have a witness to my insanity.

On Easter, April 4 of 2010 we had several friends over for Easter dinner. At approximately 3:40 PST (22:42.22 UTC) A 7.2 earthquake hit 12km SW of Delta, BC Mexico and was felt all the way up to our house in Northern Los Angeles County. Immediately as the chandelier was swinging and our guests began to go into panic mode I swiped to the event I had created and held up my iPhone showing my prediction. Admittedly, I was a week off, and I had told my wife I was calculating a +/- 5 day window – so I was off by at least 2 days. But that was pretty good geologically speaking.  After that I dabbled in the theory, but it never panned out so I threw that section of tin foil away and haven’t revisited the theory.

CUT TO: now. With all the noise about the Salton Sea lighting up seismologists were issuing warnings and my wife seemed very vested in this warning.2016-09-30_1475291921539_47199872_ver1-0_640_480


The geologists were originally saying that this next week 10/3-10/8 would be an increased risk of the Big One, but to be frank they always issue earthquake advisories so I never pay much attention because trying to predict earthquakes is CRAZY…. With her concern I thought I’d look some numbers up.

Here is what I came up with:


The moon averages it’s orbit at 238,855 miles, and it’s furthest distance is 252,088 miles. What you need to know is the distance at it’s CLOSEST: 225,623 miles.  The moon will be at an orbit on 10/17/2016 with a distance of 222,628 miles – Yup, the moon on the 17th will be 5 miles from it’s closest orbit, that’s really close! And it will probably hit it’s closest orbit, I just haven’t looked for the exact moment when it will, so lets look at the next factor, the distance to the sun:

On October 17 the Sun will be at 0.9963940458984156 AU, 1 AU means the sun is at it’s average distance – but this is not it’s closest distance, that will occur on 1/1/17. But none the less it’s closer than on July 4 of any given year.

Next I look at the height of the tides:


The tide in Santa Monica will be at 6.5ft, by no means a King Tide, but it is a pretty high tide. If the tide were around or above 9ft then I would be a little more concerned. But with the moon SO close I think there is still some concern and factor that in with the Salton Sea activity I think it’s best to recheck your earthquake kits and make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

Once again I say predicting earthquakes is pretty darn crazy and this is only a fun exercise I like to do, but recently a LA times article came out saying that seismologists were beginning to look at this theory as having credibility so taking everything into consideration I’d say we are overdue for a major event and giving a plus or minus 5 day window October 17, 2016 looks pretty viable. Here is an article which talks about the recent study analyzing the data on the San Andreas fault.



The List Revisited

A colleague at work asked me if I knew anything about earthquake kits. I guess it’s time to publish the list I recommend for your 72 Hour Bag. At the bottom are some items for your home.
2 2 Cans of Fix O Flat
3 Hydration Insert (Platypus Big Zip Recommended)
4 Dust Masks in 1 gal ziplock baggie
6 Fuel for stove
7 Fire starter: Magnesium & Steel, Matches, steel wool (Know at least 3 ways of making fire).
8 Potable Aqua iodine pills or a filtration system. I prefer the Sawyer Mini Filter, it’s $25 and tiny: 
9 9 Volt light + spare batteries (ebay 9 volt light, mine cost $1)
10 Compass + Map of area you live in.
11 Small notepad w/pencil, pen & Sharpie
12 100’ 550 Cord (Para or Mason line)
13 Toiletries & Medications (personally as needed)
14 Hand Sanitizer
15 Moist Towelettes
16 Small First Aid Kit (Adventure Med Kit .7 Recommended)
17 SOL Bivy Sack
18 Some type of edged tool
19 Wind/Rain Jacket preferably lined for warmth
20 Wind/Rain pants, (Frog Togs or heavier if you routinely wear shorts to work)
21 Wide Mouth H2O Bottle (the narrow mouth ones are hard to fill in shallow water, if you don’t use it for water think of it as a waterproof vault.)
22 Bandanna (30 uses, one major use is primary water filter)
23 Food, enough for 72 hours at 2000 cal per day
24 Datrex 2400 Calorie pack (this is a good on the go snack for 3 days, taste like shortbread)
25 Datrex Emergency Water Packets (As many as you can fit, I pack 6 but always have a case of bottled H2O in my trunk that I rotate)
26 Gloves
27 Spoon
28 Multiplier
29 Spare pair of thin wool socks (they’re good in any weather, hot or cold)
30 Spare Batteries for flashlight (I carry a flashlight on set daily so these are for that. If you can get a light that uses lithium batteries, they have a shelf life of 10 years)
31 Cup (large enough to boil water for the size of meals you get, 2.5 cups)
33 2” Spare Velcro male & female 6”-1’ (It’s unbelievable what you can do with it)
34 Starbuck Singles or Tea Bags (really who wants to start the day without coffee?)
35 Duct Tape (Wrap 5-10’ around the Sharpie)
36 Whistle
37 Signal Mirror
38 Zip Ties
39 2 Large Trash Bags
40 Cyalume Light Sticks (get the ones made in the USA)
Container for home. I recommend something like this and store it outside of the house away from the main structure, a shed or bungalow that way if the house is damaged it is easier to retrieve it even with debris on it rather than the structure of the house.
Contained within should be canned goods with can opener, personal items like hygiene and clothing, cooking supplies to last for 10 days. Not 10 days of luxury, but 10 days of surviving. Candles are not a good item to put in here because of the SoCal heat they will melt, there are small tea candle size emergency lights that are better.
WATER For Home rule of thumb is you need 1 gallon of water per person per day – including pets. I have two 55 gallon drums secured outside my house in a shed.