September 15, 2007


5.5 earthquake in Honduras, USGS map
Click to enlarge any of the maps

Now here is some hots news that you haven't heard yet (providing you are reading this soon after I post it):

We just had an earthquake in Honduras at 11:59 a.m. this morning.

El Jefe was upstairs laying on the bed watching the Independence Day parades on television. I was (where else?) downstairs sitting at the computer. I heard the large sliding glass door windows rattling loudly and jumped up. I thought it was Chloe, the guard dog, banging against them which she sometimes does.

At the same moment that I stepped into the hall, El Jefe ran out of the upstairs room, saying, "Did you feel that! I was about to jump off the terraza!" I think that he may have been exaggerating a little!

I didn't feel anything, but there was no wind and no dogs near those doors so we were both convinced that there had been an earthquake. I started checking the U.S. Geological Service earthquake information.

We turned on the television and before long, the announcer was saying that they had felt the earthquake, too. After a very few minutes, the Earthquake Center started showing the data.

The earthquake was rated a 5.5 magnitute, but that could be revised as they get more data. Comparing the earthquake map with a more detailed Honduras map, it looks like the epicenter was apparently near a small town called Marale in the mountains, about 17 miles (28 km.) south of Yoro, in the department of Yoro.

The epicenter appeared to be about halfway between Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba. To locate it on a less detailed map of Honduras (is there any other kind?), if you drew a circle touching the major cities of La Ceiba, Juticalpa, Tegucigalpa, Siguatepeque, and El Progresso, the epicenter would be just about in the middle of that circle, in the mountains surrounded by several small villages.

One local La Ceiba call-in talk program was speculating about the earthquake so El Jefe tried to be a good citizen and called in with the actual data and location information. It was a terrible connection and he couldn't hear the questions being asked but did his best to report the facts and where the facts came from. The announcer mis-heard him and reported that it was a 5.9 magnitude.

A few minutes later, more information was available from the USGS, so El Jefe called in again. He didn't want to go on the air again because it was so frustrating not being able to hear the questions. He just wanted to pass on the new information and the correct rating of the earthquake. The "screener"
said, "I'm not allowed to tell him anything. Sorry. Goodbye." in a typical example of how some people don't learn to think for themselves, only learn to "follow the rules" without any thought to the real purpose of their job.

I couldn't help but think of all the exciting scoops that station might miss because of this screener. For all he knew, El Jefe was calling in to report that he had just heard from friends in Tegucigalpa that the earth opened up and sucked in the Presidential Palace and National Congress! It is very frustrating dealing with situations like that. The program continued for another two hours and never did report the new facts from the USGS so I guess they didn't have anyone who knew how to look it up on the internet. Instead they were taking complaints about Hondutel phone lines not working. No news there!

In the time that it has taken me to write this, locate the maps and upload them, and publish this article, the local stations have continued to report on the parades so it appears that there hasn't been much damage. I hope that is true.

I always say that there is never any shortage of blogging material in Honduras. I can also say that I'm learning a lot about hurricanes and earthquakes.
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