Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another Big Quake

So we had another big quake Thursday night about 2330.  I had just went to bed when my phone went off with an emergency earthquake report, which it pretty much only does when they're a 6.0 or over.  The phone vibrates and flashes and makes a siren sound.  You get a text message in Kanji telling you where the earthquake has happened that the translator app I have translates to something like "Earthquake in Miyagi prefecture.  Please prepare a strong tremor."  This earthquake was pretty strong with the USGS saying it was a 7.1 and Japan saying it was a 7.4.  I figured it was going to be in the 7's right away because after the 900+ (60+ over 6.0) earthquakes we've had since 9 March I've gotten pretty good at guessing their strength!

For those of you who don't know, the Richter scale is no longer in common usage to determine the power of quakes.  Scientists use something called the "moment magnitude scale" and it is extremely similar to the Richter scale for layman purposes.  Both scales operate in a base 10 logarithmic scale (everyone who knows me knows I am a nerd so if you're not into science content skip ahead!).  This means that the power of quakes increase exponentially and not linearly.  In normal language it means that when you jump 2 levels on the scale the quake is not twice as powerful, it is 1,000 times more powerful.  So basically it would take 1,000 5.0 magnitude quakes to equal the energy released in one 7.0 magnitude quake.  This is why after feeling a 9.0 a 7.1-4 seems like nothing and after I saw that there was only going to be a .5-1 meter tsunami (the tsunami on 11 march was 10 meters up here and over 30 in Sendai!) I went back to sleep!

The quake on Thursday knocked out power about a full day but by Friday evening everything was back to normal.  One of the guys from work married a local girl whose parents own a Japanese pub, or izakaya, and he had a BBQ Friday at the restaurant.  I would loved to have gotten some photos from going out on Friday, but sadly my phone died early in the night from not getting charged the night before!

I didn't get to go on the clean-up to Noda like I had planned last week.  My work schedule changed and I am going to be taking over a new section so I have been trying to learn that job.  I was also sick for a few days after cleaning up the farm in Hachinohe last weekend.  It's starting to get warm here now and the weather this last week has been awesome.  The bad part of that is that the cedar trees are releasing noxious clouds of pollen which are tearing me up.  Luckily today I was able to chew up enough Zyrtec to get through a nice 4 mile run through Misawa City!

We're still getting to support relief efforts around Japan by receiving supplies and distributing them.  I was able to get out of the office for a little last week to drive the AT forklift and help deliver some water to some guys who were distributing it down in Miyagi prefecture (where Sendai is).  The point of contact for this effort was Simon Bernard, an American ex-pat who lives in the area and runs an organization called "Outside the Gate."

Simon has a page for Outside the Gate on Facebook and if you want to find out more about what is going on in Misawa you can add the Misawa American Red Cross, AFN Misawa, or Misawa Emergency Management pages.  They usually have up-to-date info as soon as something happens around here.  It's great the DoD has embraced social media sites because when you're at home it is usually the fastest way to find out what is going on.

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