After watching the unfolding events in Northern Japan, I was blown away by the magnitude of the devastation. While the earthquake did massive damage, the ensuing tsunami completely decimated coastal Japanese towns.
The scary thing was the speed of the water as it encroached onto flat land and through city streets. The water had an almost eerie seductiveness. It came on slowly at first and then just seemed to explode. Instead of huge tidal waves, the water rose from the bottom almost invisibly.
I cannot imagine what those people must be going through. Everything they had has been washed away. And now the nuclear reactors are spewing radioactivity. It’s like a Hollywood disaster movie gone bad.
When I was a kid, growing up in California, we used to worry about a massive earthquake and California sliding into the ocean. Now it appears that the opposite might be true. An offshore earthquake here could do the same thing that the one in Japan did.
I live near the coastal town of Carlsbad in the north county of San Diego. My house is about 5 miles inland and about 30 miles south of a nuclear power plant at San Onofre, California. I work in the Temecula valley which is 25 miles upwind of the same reactor.
While its always been a bit disconcerting to live near a power plant in a place where earthquakes are common, it now appears that this seaside reactor could be vulnerable from a tsunami.
While the San Onofre plant has a 25 foot seawall and is tested to withstand a 7.0 earthquake, that isn’t exactly reassuring after seeing the unexpected 9.0 quake in Japan.
While the events happening 5000 miles away in Japan may seem somewhat distant, it’s worldwide impact is just beginning to unravel. While the “big one” has a 50% chance of happening in California over the next 40 years and will probably happen inland, just seeing that power plant right next to the ocean on my trip to Orange County makes me shudder a little.
Question: Do you think an offshore earthquake could hit California?