Joe’s Weather Blog: Earthquakes And Thunderstorms

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

I’ve reformatted the weather blog for you so that you always have at least a 36 hour forecast on the top of the blog followed by a more in-depth discussion below that so that you can have an idea about the forecast or should you want to learn more about the weather (or other things…like earthquakes below) that information is available as well.

Tonight: Increasing clouds as some moisture moves in from the south. 60% chance of some scattered storms moving through near or before daybreak Monday. Windy with south winds of 20-30 MPH and steady temperatures 50-55°

Monday: Early AM storms move away before 9AM…then becoming partly to mostly sunny. Windy again with SW to W winds of 20-30 MPH. Skies should be partly to mostly sunny. Need to watch for some redevelopment (20% chance) of storms later in the PM with the cold front. Highs 72-77°

Monday night: Turing cooler with NW winds of 15-25 MPH…lows near 30-35° by daybreak Tuesday

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Discussion:

I thought this afternoon I’d start and talk about the earthquakes that have happened across in the last couple of days…just because I find this stuff interesting. Yesterday there was an earthquake around the Los Angeles, CA area…this measured a 5.1. Folks there are somewhat used to this stuff. This was the strongest quake in the area since 2008 I believe. There were dozens of aftershocks as is typical after the main quake.

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 30 12.48

The red lines in the map above represent the fault lines or where the crust of the earth is fractured allowing the separate pieces of land to rub up against each other or to run above or below each other…thus creating tension and then a release in the  form of an earthquake.

From the USGS…

A M5.1 earthquake occurred at 9:09pm on March 28, 2014, located 1 km (1 mile) east of La Habra, CA, 5 km (3 miles) north of Fullerton, CA and 33 km (21 miles) ESE of Los Angeles. The depth of the event is 7.5 km.

The event was felt widely throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.  It was preceded by two foreshocks, a M3.6 at 8:03pm and a M2.1 at 8:16 pm.

There have been 38 aftershocks as of 10:45pm, the largest of which was a M3.6 at 9:30pm, and was felt locally near the epicenter. The aftershock sequence may continue for several days to weeks, but will likely decay in frequency and magnitude as time goes by.

The maximum observed instrumental intensity was VII, recorded in the LA Habra and Brea areas, although the ShakeMap shows a wide area of maximum intensity of VI. The maximum reported intensity for the Community Internet Intensity Map (Did You Feel It?) was reported at VI in the epicentral area.

This sequence could be associated with the Puente Hills thrust (PHT).  The PHT is a blind thrust fault that extends from this region to the north and west towards the City of Los Angeles.  It caused the M5.9 1987 Oct. 1 Whittier Narrows earthquake.  

Previously, the M5.4 2008 Chino Hills earthquake occurred in this region.  It caused somewhat stronger shaking in Orange County and across the Los Angeles Basin.

The quake was felt across a broad area of S CA…here is the “shake” map…or where it was felt…damage was considered “light”.

 

 

Also this morning there was a 4.5 earthquake in Oklahoma towards the north of Oklahoma City. The state has seen a lot of earthquakes over the years and some believe it has to do with the fracking that is occurring as we pump oil out of the ground. While there is not concrete proof that this is connected it is interesting and perhaps no coincidence that we’re seeing more quakes in other parts of the country where fracking is becoming more widespread.

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 30 13.02

Here is the shake map for the OK earthquake…

 

The closest known fault to this earthquake is down to the SW near Lawton, OK.

Is this earthquake absolutely related to fracking…not necessarily. OK has a long history of earthquakes and there have been some decent sized ones there in the past…more on the history of OK earthquakes is here.

 

So if it’s happened before the days of fracking…and now it’s happened again…you can’t necessarily say the two are directly connected…here is more information about the earthquakes away from the more typical areas….form the USGS.

Earthquakes in the Stable Continental Region

Natural Occurring Earthquake Activity

Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes. Here and there earthquakes are more numerous, for example in the New Madrid seismic zone centered on southeastern Missouri, in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska seismic zone of eastern Quebec, in New England, in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington urban corridor, and elsewhere. However, most of the enormous region from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake.

Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the west. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area more than ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. It would not be unusual for a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in eastern or central North America to be felt by a significant percentage of the population in many communities more than 100 km (60 mi) from its source. A magnitude 5.5 earthquake in eastern or central North America might be felt by much of the population out to more than 500 km (300 mi) from its source. Earthquakes east of the Rockies that are centered in populated areas and large enough to cause damage are, similarly, likely to cause damage out to greater distances than earthquakes of the same magnitude centered in western North America.

Most earthquakes in North America east of the Rockies occur as faulting within bedrock, usually miles deep. Few earthquakes east of the Rockies, however, have been definitely linked to mapped geologic faults, in contrast to the situation at plate boundaries such as California’s San Andreas fault system, where scientists can commonly use geologic evidence to identify a fault that has produced a large earthquake and that is likely to produce large future earthquakes. Scientists who study eastern and central North America earthquakes often work from the hypothesis that modern earthquakes occur as the result of slip on preexisting faults that were formed in earlier geologic eras and that have been reactivated under the current stress conditions. The bedrock of Eastern North America is, however, laced with faults that were active in earlier geologic eras, and few of these faults are known to have been active in the current geologic era. In most areas east of the Rockies, the likelihood of future damaging earthquakes is currently estimated from the frequencies and sizes of instrumentally recorded earthquakes or earthquakes documented in historical records.

Induced Seismicity

As is the case elsewhere in the world, there is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth’s crust sufficiently to induce faulting. Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth’s crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations. In much of eastern and central North America, the number of earthquakes suspected of having been induced is much smaller than the number of natural earthquakes, but in some regions, such as the south-central states of the U.S., a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced. Even within areas with many human-induced earthquakes, however, the activity that seems to induce seismicity at one location may be taking place at many other locations without inducing felt earthquakes. In addition, regions with frequent induced earthquakes may also be subject to damaging earthquakes that would have occurred independently of human activity. Making a strong scientific case for a causative link between a particular human activity and a particular sequence of earthquakes typically involves special studies devoted specifically to the question. Such investigations usually address the process by which the suspected triggering activity might have significantly altered stresses in the bedrock at the earthquake source, and they commonly address the ways in which the characteristics of the suspected human-triggered earthquakes differ from the characteristics of natural earthquakes in the region.

So we can tell that the LA quake was stronger…but how much stronger? One was a 5.1 (CA) the other was a 4.5 (OK). In terms of the energy released…the CA earthquake was almost 8 times stronger than the OK earthquake.

Oh and finally there was a 4.8 earthquake in the Yellowstone Park area last night…the largest in almost 30 years.

OK enough with the geology now let’s switch to the meteorology.

everything today is going according to plan…strong south winds are kicking in as of this writing and the temperatures are climbing fast. We’re in the 70s as of this writing and will climb even more this afternoon and not really drop a lot tonight. Moisture is sparse out there…dewpoints all the way into central TX are in the 30s. Later tonight, thanks to strong winds above the surface at close to 75 MPH (!) some moisture aloft will be brought into the region. This may set-off some thunderstorms near daybreak Monday. Check out the wind field at about 5000′. This is one impressive map! Clcik and make it more readable.

ruc18hr_850_wnd

Not a certainty that we get the storms though…I’ll continue with a 60% chance near daybreak…per the latest hi-res NAM model.

hires_ref_kc_25

I think there is a chance of some small hail with the storms…and an outside chance of some near severe levels of winds as well.

Tomorrow will be highlighted by a cold front that will move through the area later in the afternoon. Here is the surface wind forecast for about 6PM tomorrow night with the front moving through the area.

hires_uv10m_kc_36

With a late frontal arrival we should again surge tomorrow with highs well into the 70s and some may get close to 80°, especially to the south of the KC area…click on that image to make it more readable.

hires_t2m_max_kc_12

 

Tuesday should be OK…clouds may increase later in the day.

Wednesday is interesting because the front front that comes through tomorrow will stall and start to retreat northwards later Tuesday into Wednesday. How far north it gets will determine 1) how warm we are and 2) how much rain we get. My feeling is that we’ll be on the cool side of the front on Wednesday which means chillier temperatures…maybe only near 50° but also more rain…and potentially our “best” rain in months as storms/heavy rain should erupt early WED AM right on top of the I-70 corridor. This rain should effectively keep the front to the south as it generates more cool air…and with the winds aloft blowing over this cool air at the surface it’s a great set-up for heavy rain. The axis may wobble a bit…but there is increasing potential of a significant rain in the region on Wednesday during the 1st part of the day. There is potential for 1-2″ of rainfall out of this scenario for some IF that warm front sets up to the south of the KC area!

A storm will move through Thursday AM…allowing warmer air to move in ahead of it WED night into THU AM before cooler/colder air moves in later THU into Friday. Temperatures on Thursday could really be warm…and it should be very humid as well…a real spring day! Storm chances will come as well. Need to watch this for the potential of severe weather.

Right now Friday (Opening Day) looks dry but blustery/chilly in the AM with highs around 50-55° in the PM.

A busy week coming and for those who want a good soaking…perhaps just what the doctor ordered for some.

Joe

 

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5 comments

  • Larry Greenberg

    Great website, Joe. Very informative and interesting. I understand you’re from New Rochelle (or, Larchmont). I’m from New Rochelle, and graduated NRHS in 1948 — before the original building burned down. If you’d like to talk to someone about good old NR, send me an email. I’d like to meet you.

  • Patrick Trudel (@sedsinkc)

    Joe, good info on the OK quakes. However, the part of the story you omitted is that Oklahoma has had a huge increase in earthquakes greater than magnitude 2.0 since 2009. In fact, between 2009 and Feb. 14, 2014, there were 832 such quakes. Between 1990 and 2008 there was a grand total of 74 such quakes. While earthquakes do naturally occur in Oklahoma, this huge upsurge is very likely related to ongoing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and injection of fracking wastewater back into the subsurface. Large upticks in earthquakes have also occurred in recent years in other areas where significant fracking has been done, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area and northeastern Ohio to name two examples. It is very difficult to prove causation, because old, historically inactive fault systems are common in many parts of the U.S., and there is always the potential for earthquakes, though they are unlikely. The oil industry vehemently denies any link between fracking and earthquakes in order to duck potential liability, much as the tobacco companies denied smoking caused disease for decades until the science became overwhelming against them. I think it will be the case in the future that a more solid causal link will be established between earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing/use of injection wells for wastewater disposal.

  • Dave Howard

    Great info about earthquakes. I was born and raised in SoCal and know all to well about the quakes there. I was in High School when the Sylmar quake hit in 1971, a 6.6 to 6.8 big one. Small quakes are ok, they rattle your nerves, but that means pressure is relieved and the faults are not stuck. That’s when you get nervous is when you don’t have any, then BAM! a big one hits. The San Andreas fault is stuck in the Palmdale area, also known as the Palmdale bulge, the fault is locked and hasn’t moved for eons, but the fault has moved in the northern and southern areas. This is what folks relate to the really big one, but there are so many faults in the LA area, a big one can hit on any of the faults that zig-zag the area, you just deal with them. But there is no warnings like here with severe weather, and sometimes tornadoes hit with no warning too—–