Whole lotta shakin’ going on in quake area

‘I feel the earth move under my feet; I feel the sky tumbling down. I feel my heart start to trembling; whenever you’re around.’

When Carole King wrote those lyrics in 1971, she was musing about the physical impact of a lover’s presence.

The same could be said for the effect of an early-morning earthquake that struck the area at 4:37 a.m. last Friday.

Some people snoozed right through the 5.2-magnitude quake. Not us.

After four kids, you learn to keep one ear cocked even as you sleep. In the early years, it was to hear their cries when they needed something in the night. Nowadays, it’s to listen for them to come home.

This time of year, it’s not a bad idea to keep on alert for severe weather, as spring storms frequently roll through the area.

But this was different. Very different.

My first thought was that it was hailing outside. Then, as I sat up in bed, I realized that the house was swaying rhythmic, back and forth, swaying.

Soon it became more like a vibration. That phase lasted for perhaps 20 or 30 seconds before it ended.

Though I’d never been in an earthquake, I knew as the cobwebs of sleep were swept away that this must be one. Fortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to cause damage.

If you say youve never felt a quake, youre probably not alone. According to U.S. Geological Survey information, the last earthquake here was back in the mid-1980s.

Though Fridays quake, and the aftershock that followed at about 10:15 a.m., are rare here, they arent unprecedented. In fact, more than 30 earthquakes have been recorded in Illinois. Last weeks quake was, however, among the most severe on record. Though it was centered in far Southeastern Illinois, near Mount Carmel and West Salem, the shock was felt hundred of miles away.

In that area, the Wabash fault zone is responsible for the underground shifting. It cant hold a shaking candle to the better-known (and more active) New Madrid fault zone over in Missouri. The New Madrid was responsible for the most severe U.S. quakes on record a pair measuring an estimated 7.0 to 8.0 on the Richter scale in 1811 and 1812. Those quakes were strong enough to open giant fissures and cause the Mississippi River to run backwards for a brief time.

Though about a dozen aftershocks have been recorded since Friday, none has been close to the magnitude of the first two with most aftershocks being less than 3.0 on the Richter scale. For me, the only one that was strong enough to feel here was the first aftershock Friday at 10:15 a.m.

So, next time you feel the house swaying, either weve had another quake, youve had too much to drink or youve been playing ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ from Carole Kings classic Tapestry album way too often.

You may want to shift your play list to include ‘So Far Away’ or ‘Way Over Yonder’ to keep the temblors at bay.

‘It’s Too Late’ might be among the tracks to be avoided.

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