Earthquake weather

Many people in California believe that earthquake season/weather exists. We have had a few earthquakes in past week and yes it has been earthquake weather. The air has a feel to it, a kind of calmness.

Now the seismologists disagree. They say that earthquakes can come at any time and in any weather condition. They also contend that they can strike at any time.

But to those living in earthquake regions the belief is prevalent that there is a weather condition that earthquakes happen in, call it an “earthquake season”. Also there is the belief that pets can predict earthquakes since pets seem to get edgy before an earthquake, and thus we can predict earthquakes by watching them.

So do I believe in a “wives tales” to be classified with the “moon walk hoax” and “flat earth” people. Or is there some validity in this belief because seismologists admit to not knowing all about the prediction and workings of earthquakes.

Speaking as someone who has lived in California all her life, I can say with absolute conviction that “Earthquake Weather” is an old wife’s tale.

Earthquakes come at all times, in all sorts of weather. I can remember earthquakes that happened when it was raining, when it was 110 degrees out, when the Santa-Anas were blowing (Sundowners, for those of you who live in Santa Barbara - I don’t remember what the hot dry winds are called in the Bay Area or Northern CA), when it was foggy, when there was no stillness to anything at all. When the Northridge Quake hit we’d been having an absolutely normal period of weather for the time of year; some rain, some sun, all coolish.

Oh -

One other thing that just occurred to me about “Earthquake Weather” is that there is no agreement about what constitutes the phenomenon.

Some people talk about stillness, other people think it’s when it’s hot and it’s raining, or it’s coolish in the summertime, or muggy…

My wife believes in that too! I’m with you SC. I wanted to solve this by looking up the weather conditions for the Northridge quake vs the Loma Prieta quake. I can’t seem to find the info online however.

Oh we call those winds the Santa Ana’s up here in the Bay Area.

It’s a wives’ tale.

The Earth’s crust is not solid; it’s made up of sections called plates that are constantly in motion and constantly grinding against each other. (They move because they rest (or float) upon the red-hot molten interior that is itself in motion; it’s like pieces of wood floating on boiling water. And the interior of the Earth is red-hot because of pressure and radioactive decay.) Their edges are not smooth, so they catch one another and strain against one another until the rock reaches the breaking point and they move suddenly: THAT is an earthquake.

Earthquakes happen miles beneath the surface. There is no way that the weather is going to affect anything happening that far down. Rock is excellent insulation, so any temperature change on the surface will have no effect on things that are miles deep.

Read more about earthquakes here.

JAB1 if I wanted just answers to a question I would have put this in GQ. This is a debate. I am talking about something that many people believe in and talk about in seriousness. These are educated, sensible people. That in my mind makes it a debatable topic.

I am a native Californian, but where I grew up we had ALOT of earthquakes but it was always hot and clear. This was in the low desert of California. I did not hear about this earthquake weather until I lived in Central California and L.A. areas.

stuffinb wrote:

Is she an Old Wife? :wink:

This is the fact that I find the most depressing about the topic; that otherwise educated, sensible people can believe in what is one of the most unlikely scenarios I can think of, given how earthquakes come about.

Seismologists can usually figure out that a larger quake may be coming when they encounter hundreds of microquakes in a given area. Admittedly, not always, but often. And microquakes have nothing to do with the weather.

deb, I don’t know where in CA you are now, but SoCal/Thousand Oaks area had rain on Tuesday and still clear cool weather last night, and we’ve had no earthquakes to speak of.

The low desert would have a lot of quakes, and they would (logically, it is a desert after all) happen during hot, clear weather.

But, as I said, people don’t agree about what constitutes “earthquake weather.” Ask different believers and you’ll get different answers.

stuffinb, I don’t remember the weather during LP. I know it was a clear day when the Whittier quake happened, nothing spectacular about it.

The thing is, California is on a tectonic plate, and has lots and lots of earthquakes. So anyone looking for evidence of earthquake weather is probably going to find some signs of what they’re looking for, as long as they exclude other evidence.

One thing that’s been interesting me ever since I read an article in the L.A. Times shortly after the Northridge quake was that most of the major earthquakes in CA have happened either at dawn or at dusk, going all the way back to the Great SF Quake. Don’t know how accurate it is, and can’t find the article anymore.

tracer: :stuck_out_tongue:

What logical parallel could you draw between the Loma Prieta quake and the Northridge quake in terms of weather? The former happened around 5 pm and the latter occurred at 4:30 in the morning (4:33 am IIRC).

I would consult the Southern California Earthquake Center’s page on “Earthquake Myths”
http://www.scec.org/outreach/eqbasics/myths.html
for more info on this.

People in Southern California may think of “earthquake weather”, but the weather in Southern California doesn’t have as much variation as other parts of the country. So, unless there is a major earthquake on a rainy day, some people will hold on to the notion of “earthquake weather”.

Educated and sensible poeple they may be, but they can still be mistaken. Here is a site which discusses this, and other, myth surrounding earthquakes.

Here is a site which suggests that increased atmospheric pressure may be a factor contributing to some earthquakes, but there is still little data to verify this.

The USGS has this to say:

While surfing the net on this subject I found this site. http://library.thinkquest.org/C003603/english/earthquakes/prediction.shtml

Now is this correct, I do not know. Others dispute this. My feeling is that there is not enough study done yet to prove or disprove this “earthquake weather” belief. As you can see in my OP, the weather phenomenom I have heard mentioned is that there is a calm in the air.

It has long been a belief that animals can sense when an earthquake will occur. Horses have been know to get jittery to the point of being unmanageable right before an earthquake. Cats and dogs have been known to run around in an agitated state prior to an earthquake. If we accept that animals can sense this (an I know some of you won’t believe this) why can’t we sense them.

She lurks; and I still gotta go home :smiley:

SisterCoyote wrote:

It was mid 70’s clear evening as I recall. Maybe warmer.
BobT wrote:

That is what I wanted to establish is that the weather was completely different during the two events. I only saw the Northridge quake on TV (unlike being 5 blocks from the Cypress freeway during the LP), so I don’t know how the weather was, other than clear.

I’m in the resinsurance business, which definitely includes the risk of earthquake. With money on the line, those in my field go with the siesmologists, rather than the OW’s.

Low desert? Did you get any other kind of weather?

  • ::: d & r ::: *

Animals senses are much different than ours. Why don’t we have border agents sniffing luggage for drugs and explosives? A cat can hear a mouse walking, can you? Whales seem to be able to converse with each other hundreds and even thousands of miles apart. Canaries have been used in mines, because they die from poisonous gases faster than we do, but if they weren’t kept in cages they’d probably get the hell out of there.

Wonderful quip tomndebb!

tomndebb and Kniz in your zeal to make fun of where I grew up, I think you missed my line where I said “I did not hear about this earthquake weather until I lived in Central California and L.A. areas.” I understand how the desert is always hot and clear–it had less than 1" of annual rainfall.

I was hoping to get more of a debate on this topic since it seems that so many believe it. Actually how I determine if an earthquake is going to happen is when I feel the jolting.

But I have noticed an interesting phenomena. If there is a fairly large earthquake on one side of the Pacific rim, many times there will be a corresponding earthquake on the other side within a month. Obviously I have no scientific data and no real study, it is just something I have been observing. My hypothsis being that since the Pacific Rim is a horseshoe shape, if there is pressure released on one side, it also needs to release pressure on the other side.

The idea of earthquake weather is absurd. Do you think it was a warm and clear day in Anchorage on Good Friday, 1964? I’m gonna go with…probably not. On December 7, 1988, a 6.9 earthquake in Armenia killed 25,000 people. How hot and muggy do you think it gets in Armenia in December?

The idea gets floated around in California for the obvious reason that it’s often warm and clear in California. October 17, 1989 was, in fact, a lovely day here in the Bay Area, but guess what? The weather is always like that in October in the Bay Area! Whoop de do. Earthquake weather is a load of hooey.

Everyone always talked about “Earthquake Weather” (dry, stillness in the air) but it was just talk. I always felt a little nervous on an “Earthquake Weather” day, but I can’t remember ever thinking “Man! What an earthquake weather day!” and there actually being an earthquake.

I’d never heard about “earthquake weather” and as someone who used to teach a seismology class I’m doing my best to keep a straight face.

Two concepts were mentioned:

Earthquakes occur as a rusult of a certain type of weather - laughable.

Earthquakes might cause subtle changes in the weather - worth considering.

Certainly faint diagnostic attributes are present since yes, some animals apparently act quite differently prior to a quake. Burrowing animals often will refuse to go underground. Fish will jump out of the water. Dogs, cats and horses appear skiddish.

Something’s going on but it’s on a level too faint for we as humans to discern.