Monday, January 30, 2012

Strong Aftershock Rocks Central Virginia

A magnitude 3.2 aftershock occurred at 6:39 PM this evening 5 miles south of Louisa and was felt across much of central Virginia. This aftershock was one of the strongest since the original quake back in August. I've been getting a lot of questions on my facebook page about these aftershocks, and specifically when we can call them a new earthquake. Technically, all of these aftershocks are earthquakes, but we call them aftershocks because they are smaller earthquakes associated with the larger seismic event (the 5.8 magnitude quake). If an aftershock is stronger than the original earthquake, it will be deemed the main quake, and all subsequent seismic activity will be referred to as foreshocks. Here's hoping tonight's was the last of them, but I doubt it. -Zach

Be Careful What You Wish For

I'm a big fan of severe and unusual weather, and find myself always looking forward to the next big storm. I'll never wish for anything that would cause loss of life or widespread property damage, but a good thunderstorm or winter weather event challenges and fascinates the scientist in me. I just returned to Virginia two nights ago from spending a week visiting my in-laws, and on the flight out of Richmond last Saturday, I got what I wished for. Flying with three children ages four and under is no picnic even with no delays, and my wife and I now have a new level of airline stress by which to measure future flights. We were able to get everyone on the plane and in their seats with relative ease, and aside from the constant raising and lowering of tray tables and pushing the flight attendant call button, the kids were behaving pretty well. After waiting on the tarmac for about 15 minutes, the pilot made an announcement that the freezing rain we had been having in Richmond required deicing the aircraft, and we'd have to wait about 30 more minutes for the process to be completed. We finally taxied and took off after the delay on the ground and made our way to Oklahoma City, with a stop in Atlanta. The flight from Richmond to Atlanta is a short one, usually about an hour in the air, but after an hour had passed we were still cruising along at altitude. The pilot then made another announcement confirming my suspicion that something wasn't right, informing us that the Atlanta airport had just shut down due to severe thunderstorms, and we'd be circling until further notice. We circled for about an hour before landing, and were treated to turbulence that rivals even the best Busch Gardens has to offer. Once on the ground, the fun continued with another two hours of delays as severe storms which prompted tornado warnings continued to hammer the airport. (Keep in mind, this is January.) My son was overly tired from missing his nap and somehow ended up running shirtless down the middle of concourse C in the worlds busiest airport. We finally boarded our connecting flight to Oklahoma City and arrived a mere three and a half hours later than scheduled, being treated to a fine dose of winter and spring weather. The second flight was thankfully pretty smooth, and aside from taking a bath in a large cup of iced apple juice that my daughter dumped in my lap, I couldn't complain. So the next time I wish for a little crazy weather, I'll remember this day, and will be very careful of exactly what I'm wishing for. It's good to be back home in Virginia. Have a great week! -Zach