Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rock This Town

OK, another check mark on my Life Experience list. Sitting here last night, just a few minutes after midnight, doing some online work and just about ready to close up shop and hit the sack.

At about 12:04 ET, there was a low rumble that quickly got louder and louder, like a train passing by right next to my window. Given that I was on the second floor and the nearest train tracks are several miles away, that couldn't be!

As the rumble continued, the house began shaking. My mind raced - what in Blue Hell is going on here? Some sort of explosion nearby? A couple of large trucks colliding on Columbia Avenue? No, neither of these could be the case either, as the rumbling and shaking was lasting too long.

And then it stopped, just as abruptly as it started. Was that a frickin' earthquake? In Lancaster, PA? In December?

Since I was online at the time, I immediately went to the local TV station's news website. WGAL-TV, channel 8, broadcasts from a building about a block or so west of my home. If I felt this shaking, then anyone there felt must have felt it, too - or so I thought. Then again, our local news is infamous for being a bit slow on the story, and more than a bit lax in their depth of coverage. Their website had nothing, and neither was there any information on their television broadcast.

I also immediately posted status updates on both Facebook and Twitter, basically asking if anyone else had experienced this. Had to make sure I wasn't going cuckoo, y'know! Not a lot of people on Facebook at that time, but Twitter absolutely came to life. For the next hour, several fellow local Twitterers and I exchanged info.

Relatively quickly, the links to the U.S. Geological Survey website started coming in, verifying that indeed, a 3.3 magnitude quake had hit us. Centered in Landisville, PA (a little less than 10 miles from where I am), the quake registered as far south as Maryland, as far west as Carlisle, PA, and as far east as Philadelphia - a huge region. This morning, I noticed the magnitude has been upped to a 3.4.

Once we knew what it was, and once the initial excitement on Twitter settled down, conversation turned to the fact that no news media was reporting anything - nothing at all! I stayed online for about an hour, and by the time I called it a night, there was still nothing on the local news, and precious little info online outside of the USGS site.

Got up this morning and did a cursory check around the house -- no damage, nothing fell over, no new cracks in the walls or ceilings. Definitely a case of the bark being greater than the bite, thankfully. To my knowledge, though, that's the first earthquake I've ever experienced. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds at most, but while it was happening, it sure seemed to be occurring in slow motion.

Thank you to all my fellow Twitterers for being on the ball last night, and for picking up the slack where the news media failed.

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