March went out like a lion, a lion getting out of a river and shaking himself dry.

A strong earthquake hit southwest Idaho the evening of Tuesday, March 31. Hubby and I were watching the end of the local news when we heard a muffled whomp and the house shook. Hubby thought it was a strong gust of wind and went toward the balcony sliding door to look at the sky. The trees were moving but not from the wind. I sat in the recliner as the shaking began. I knew what it was right away, having gone through another quake several years ago.

The house shook, the trinkets rattled, and the recliner felt like it was alive. I tried to remember what to do in an earthquake. Was it get to a doorway or the bathtub? No, the bathtub is for tornadoes. We should get under something.

The shaking seemed to be dying down, evoking an inner whew! that was fun! I didn’t need to get under the cutting table. Just as that wave of relief went over me, another harder wave hit. That second wave was stronger than the first one.

Feeling everything move, even the house, is unnerving. A total loss of control. There’s nothing to do but hang on and ride it out. I know, I should have headed under the table, but my thought was that we were on the top floor so if the building collapsed, it would only be the roof. Strange things go through your mind when you’re being shaken.

The 6.5 earthquake lasted just short of one minute, but it was a very long minute. Our house swayed after the last shaking. It wasn’t like a swing on the playground, but the inch or less that it swayed made us both slightly dizzy. The previous earthquake came when I was on the third floor at work and the swaying was more pronounced then. It’s a very odd feeling.

We checked our house and found no damage. A concrete cross on top of the cathedral in town cracked and twisted and had to be lowered. Other than that, I didn’t hear of damage anywhere around here. The earthquake triggered avalanches in the backcountry north of town. A few rock slides came onto highways. No one was hurt so what could have been very destructive turned out to be okay.

A lot of aftershocks have occurred, but we haven’t felt many of them. One night just after I got into bed, the closet doors started rattling for a half a minute or so. I didn’t feel anything but the doors let me know it was happening. On Friday, I was sitting in the recliner again when it shook hard, like someone violently hit the chair. It was a single jolt aftershock that registered a 4.3, I found out later.

I read we have a 4 percent chance of a greater than 6.5 earthquake but no alarms have sounded yet. Tuesday’s earthquake was the second largest on record and the epicenter was 75 miles away. Living between Yellowstone and the Pacific volcanoes makes Idaho a shaking state. I’ll try to remember to get under the table next time.

3 Responses

  1. Our son the geologist referred us to the USGS website. There were 201 quakes as of yesterday from that one you felt. It’s not uncommon. The good thing about having so many smaller ones is that it releases the pressure on the fault. And, yes, Idaho has had that fault for a long while. Evidently it’s just been officially “extended” in length now. Glad you’re OK. P.S. love the new home page on your website!

  2. Wow. I didn’t realize that Idaho was susceptible to earthquakes, but it makes sense. We don’t get earthquakes in PA, but I did once slightly feel the one that hit DC a few years ago. My office chair started to move on my own, and the shelves in my office started to sway a little. It felt like the ground was rolling in waves under me, but it was so subtle I thought maybe I was imagining it. It took the news to confirm it a few minutes later, and my boss and colleagues all laughed about how we had experienced our first quake. I can’t imagine what a strong one would feel like, and I’m glad the damage was minimal for you.

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