Look for a lot of earthquake chatter --- especially via television --- coming out of Southern California tomorrow.
No, Grumpy Editor is not predicting the long-awaited “Big One.” It’s all going to be make-believe, a pseudo-earthquake situation “striking millions” to promote earthquake awareness.
Geologists, scientists and government officials hope 5.1 million people in the area will participate in the earthquake drill labeled “The Great Southern California ShakeOut.”
Folks behind the “shakeout” hope to register thousands of participants.
As the United States Geological Survey portrays the event:
The ShakeOut science scenario depicts a magnitude 7.8 earthquake striking the southern San Andreas fault, starting at the Salton Sea and rupturing northward 190 miles. In the scenario, the earthquake would kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences.
That reads like a proposed script for grabbing viewers at the Sci Fi channel.
But disaster-conscious broadcast and cable TV will be out in full force showing “the devastation” from the largest earthquake preparedness drill in U.S. history.
Radio will be there too, but more subdued because on-the-hour news items are brief due to the time element.
Print publications will roam the “devastation” area to capture images that will run alongside long texts.
The idea stems from annual earthquake drills in earthquake-prone Japan.
For the Southern California event, the USGS put together a team of more than 300 experts from academia and industry, public and private sectors to develop the ShakeOut and communicate it to end users including emergency managers and the general public.
One visual scene sure to be captured: School children diving under their desks in classrooms. (That drill has been going on for decades in Southern California.)
Remember, if watching TV, especially with the sound off, the “major shaker” is strictly a fictional scenario.