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Shake Up in Wichita Falls

EarthquakeMy wife & daughter and I were watching a movie on Netflix Saturday night, when I felt the couch start shaking a bit. At the same time, I noticed the TV shaking, and then looking around, saw the blinds shaking and a light flickering. There was also a lot of noise and some creaking, and I could hear the glasses rattling in our wine cabinet. My first thought was that a storm had just hit, since really powerful straight line winds that shake things up a bit aren't uncommon here. But this was a lot more shaking than that, especially on the ground floor since our house is built on a slab. I considered and immediately dismissed a tornado, since the sirens weren't going off. I even wondered if there had been a nearby explosion. By the time the shaking was done in about 5 seconds, though, I'd figured out what was going on.

It turns out, the largest earthquake to hit Oklahoma in recorded history happened on Saturday night, and we were close enough to feel it. The quake was centered near Sparks, which is about 150 miles from Wichita Falls, as the crow flies. According to Times Record News, "The USGS says the quake was shallow, about 3 miles deep. It was initially registered as 5.2 magnitude, but later upgraded to 5.6. It was the latest in a trio of tremors that struck Oklahoma Saturday."

The girl staying with us was up in her room studying at the time, and came running downstairs scared. I guess the shaking was worse on the second story. She said the ceiling fan was shaking pretty bad. But really, there wasn't any major damage - just a few slight cracks that maybe were already there and I just hadn't noticed before.

The quake did cause some more substantial damage to buildings in Oklahoma, but nothing I've seen that's truly catastrophic, and it doesn't look like anybody was seriously injured.

Earthquakes aren't unprecedented in Oklahoma. The Meers fault line runs through the state, causing on the order of 50 quakes a year. They're just not normally this strong.

So now I can check off an earthquake as something I've experienced. I realize that it was pretty minor, and people from California or other areas might not think much of it, but feeling a quake at all in Wichita Falls is something pretty out of the ordinary.

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