Earthquake Preparedness: Premonition or Coincidence?

Last night I had a dream that Nate and I were at home and I came to the sudden realization that we didn’t have an earthquake preparedness plan. Living in Iowa this is not something anyone really thinks about. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program website notes only a few events worth mentioning, most of which occurred outside of Iowa’s borders and were merely felt in the state. (You can read about them at

In my dream Nate tried to shrug it off but I kept pushing. We didn’t have any water stores or any non-perishable food stashed away. In a sense we would be really screwed if “The Big One” happened.

Chino Hills 2008 I only lived in Long Beach for a year and if my memory serves me correctly I think there were only three mentionable earthquakes that I felt while I was there. The first was the 2008 Chino Hills earthquake at magnitude 5.5. I had only been in California a few weeks and was the only person at work when suddenly I had really bad vertigo. The experience lasted a good solid 30 seconds. After it stopped it dawned on me that maybe it had been my first. Not really knowing what to do I called a co-worker who confirmed it and told me to turn on the radio to get all those details someone wants to know after their first earthquake.

The second one I thought was in the Inglewood area but I don’t remember exactly. All I remember is it had an epicenter really close to my office, so even though it wasn’t very big I definitely noticed it. I was also alone at the office for this one. The office itself was in South LA not far from LAX and was directly in line with the runway final approach so planes flew by overhead constantly. When the earthquake hit there was a very loud boom and everything in the office seemed to lift off the ground a quarter of an inch or so and then slam back down. It was so different from the Chino Hills earthquake that I didn’t even realize it was an earthquake at all. I honestly thought an airplane had crashed nearby while landing.

Inglewood 2009The third was the 2009 Inglewood earthquake at magnitude 4.7. For this one I was at Long Beach Pride watching an outdoor concert. It took a while to realize it happened because I was outdoors, but essentially it felt like I was standing on a rug and someone had yanked on it gently to try and pull it out from under me.

So where am I going with all of this? I woke up during my dream and while I didn’t look at the clock I had a pretty good approximation of what time it was. It was almost the same time as when there was an actual earthquake in the Los Angeles area. Nate thinks it is just a coincidence and that I somehow subconsciously absorbed something from an episode of the Big Bang Theory the other night, even though I didn’t watch the episode with him. Whether it was a coincidence, some sort of premonition, or something else no one can really say for certain. All I know is I would have absolutely felt this earthquake from my apartment back in Long Beach.

2014 earthquake shake map
Official USGS shake map for the recent earthquake showing the estimated intensity at my old apartment in North Long Beach.