My case study is on the El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake in Northern Mexico and Southern California.
The earthquake itself was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Easter Sunday at 4:30pm along the Laguna Salada fault line. It shook for 45 seconds and although there was minimal damage, three people were killed by collapsing walls. The earthquake was felt by 20 million people, as far as Phoenix, Los Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego, but because the most energy spread to unpopulated areas of the desert and Mexico has a pretty good earthquake building code, which is strictly enforced, the death toll and damage overall was low (Wright and Murray). There were some events caused by El Mayor-Cucapah that were hazardous. For example, “tsunami waves” were formed in backyard swimming pools (Wright and Murray 2010). Since this hazard happened in Mexico, near Southern California along the Mexican border, most people were presumably at least mildly aware of earthquakes, especially because when people move to California, they get a packet on the risks of living in an earthquake-prone area. Major earthquakes have happened all the time in California, but the last earthquake to happen in Baja California, Mexico was in 1892 (Significant Earthquakes and Faults, 2013). More serious damage occurred in downtown Calexico, California, along the Mexican border. 80% of the buildings here were red-tagged, meaning that no one was allowed inside. Also, there was a high possibility that the aftershocks could bring the buildings down (Wright and Murray 2010). Individuals might not have been well-prepared, either. For example, Carlton Hargrave, a restaurant owner who lives in a California border town, said in an interview, “We’ve got tables overturned, plates broken on the floor, the ceilings caved in” and his restaurant “was almost completely destroyed” (Steinhauer, 2010). If an individual lives in a place prone to earthquakes, bolting furniture to the floor is a smart way to mitigate, so perhaps that might have helped Mr. Hargrave. In terms of planned preparation or mitigation, Mexico City’s Civil Protection Department took responsibility to protect its citizens after a 1985 earthquake struck. Since then, the city regularly has earthquake drills (Phillips and Starr, 2010). Some highlights of the preparation include that “Mexico City implemented advanced visualization technology to improve GIS information sharing between decision makers” and that GIS facilitated separate groups to see, interact with, and share the exact same data from different locations” (Phillips and Starr, 2010). It seems that there is not a significant poverty problem and although Mexico is known for some dangerous cities, Baja California does not make the top 50 list of Most Dangerous Cities in the World (Most Dangerous Cities in the World, 2016). That gives us some insight as to how vulnerable the population is. According to Staff, there is a significant portion of immigrants to this region. People from other Latin American countries come to Baja California for economic opportunities and to escape dangers in their own countries. The upside to this is that some Central American countries, such as El Salvador, have earthquakes, so they know the drill. Another reason immigration does not have such a big impact for earthquake safety here is because the immigrants mostly speak Spanish, so warnings and safety procedures can be understood easily. In California, the earthquake affected water and wastewater treatment systems. This was especially inconvenient with summer approaching (Meneses, 2010). In order to avoid dealing with the aftermath and damage, many Mexicans fled to the United States at the border at Calexico, California; however, people from California who experienced the earthquake were trying to go to Mexico to check on their relatives and due to the high volume of people trying to move in and out of the United States, part of the border ended up being closed (Page, Parcher, and Stefanov). In terms of rescuing, “rescue teams with dogs and digging equipment were rushing to Mexicali from nearby Tijuana, but a landslide along that highway was slowing traffic” (Hall and Baker, 2010). Restoring everything was much easier for the people in California than for the people in Mexico. There was damage to both places, but according to Hall and Baker, “the quake’s impact in San Diego was fleeting.” A year after the earthquake, reconstruction was still underway. Crook and Cavanaugh share that El Mayor-Cucapah had left about 25,000 people homeless in Mexicali and some of these people are still living in tents because they have nowhere to go. Reconstruction focused on replacing what was lost, but this did not please all of the residents. For example, the houses built by the government in Mexico were not received well by all residents- “people were talking about that they were gonna have to give up the title to their land, their family land, in the valley” (Crook and Cavanaugh, 2011). That problem, along with the homes being very small and far away, were seen as a problem. Not everyone has learned from the damage of this earthquake. People in Mexicali are still living in tagged homes, meaning that the homes are not secure places to be living. The earthquake has changed how scientists look at faults. El Mayor-Cucapah jumped seven miles in the fault zone, which is twice the distance of any jump scientists had seen before. It did not occur where scientists expected it to occur (Robbins, 2016).

Wildfires in Mississippi

300 acres of land were burned in Leake County and Choctaw county in Mississippi the evening of March 23. No structures were threatened. It appears that these fires are the ones that we talked about in class that are purposely started to renew the grass in the area. Bulldozer crews created a fire line in order to contain the wildfire and firefighters remained on the scene in order to make sure it stayed where it was supposed to. Smoke is expected to continue as the fires burn out.

Storms in California

There are two storms en route to Southern California this week. Because slopes have been cleared of trees due to the wildfires, mud flow and debris flow are big concerns for residents. Rain and thunderstorms are expected. Lightening and wind are also potential hazards from these impending storms. There is an advisory in effect for small vessels of perilous seas, which will be in effect until Tuesday morning. The storm would not pose such a threat if it weren’t for the wildfires, which have left paths open for destruction.

Winter Storm Stella

Blizzard warnings have been issued for the Northeast as Winter Storm Stella nears. The tri-state area (NY, NJ, and CT) are currently under a blizzard warning. More than a foot of snow is expected from Monday night into Tuesday. According to the article, “This major nor’easter will take shape as a strong area of low pressure develops off the East Coast late Monday in response to jet stream energy moving through the eastern states.” It is also expected to strengthen due to bombogenesis. Tree damage and power outages are a big concern when it comes to Stella because of strong winds. The low may end up closer to the coast, which means that the snow will change to rain or sleet and cut down on accumulations. Coastal flooding is also a concern for places like the Jersey Shore, Long Island, the Delmarva Peninsula, and Cape Cod. Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have already experienced snow from Stella.  Mooresville, NC is pictured below with the snow from Stella.

Information and picture from

Severe Weather in Michigan and Tennessee

There is an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms for Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky today, February 24 2017. There is also a slight risk of thunderstorms for Tennessee. Damaging winds are the main concern, but hail and a couple of tornadoes are also possible. Wind damage is expected and in some locations, severe hail is also expected to cause damage. The thunderstorms are ranked from enhanced risk, slight risk, and marginal risk based on how dangerous the weather will be.  The map shows the innermost part at an enhanced risk, so those areas will be expected to have the most damage.

Storm map

All information and photo from

Severe Weather in Texas

Several tornadoes hit southeast Texas, damaging homes and injuring seven people. This occurred on Tuesday morning, February 14. Vehicles and mobile homes were flipped over due to the wind and while some people were injured, reports say they have seen no serious injuries. The tornado was given a rating of at least EF1. Five other tornadoes occurred in Texas the same day, but the report did not give the ratings for all of them; however, it included that two were EF0 and one was EF2. Almost 21,000 customers of Centerpoint energy lost power in Houston due to the tornadoes. Severe weather was expected to follow on Wednesday.

Tornado 2 Tornado

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Earthquakes in the Caribbean

A series of small earthquakes has struck the Caribbean this past week. On February 7th, Puerto Rico experienced a 3.4 magnitude earthquake and then another 3.4 magnitude earthquake on February 9. A 2.8 magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico that same day. Two more earthquakes hit Puerto Rico on February 8, about 5 hours apart. At 3:36am, a 2.9 magnitude earthquake hit, and then at 9:30am, a 3.2 magnitude earthquake hit. The Dominican Republic also experienced a 3.7 magnitude earthquake this week.

Storm Warnings in Central and Eastern Parts of US

Rain, ice, snow and winds are expected early next week. The storm will form over the southern Plains and travel towards the Great Lakes. Weathermen are pretty confident that it will bring lots of rain to the Ohio River Valley and Great Lakes, but are not sure of the forecast from the mid-Atlantic to New England. According to the article, “areas from central and northern New York state to northern Connecticut on north have the best chance of significant ice buildup during the first part of the storm.” There is also a chance of flooding because the lakes are free of ice, which means the wind and waves can produce lake-shore flooding in some communities.

Monster Storm in California

Southern California is experiencing a winter storm in the midst of the ongoing California drought. According to the Los Angeles Times, winter storm Leo has brought a record rainfall of 3.87 inches. A deluge, aka a flood, is expected after a drought in typical California weather patterns. The change from a drought to a flood has caused mudslides, which can kill people and destroy buildings. It is already reported that a few people have gone missing, including a toddler and an 18 year old whose car was “plunged into a rushing creek”. According to the Weather Channel, two people have died already. There was also a truck driver who slammed into a mudslide on Highway 17 and had to be towed away. There are other smaller mudslides, but they have not caused any damage yet.

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