Okay, I admit my Chicago neighborhood only got 12.7 inches of snow this week, not 45 inches like in Washington, D.C. I'll even agree that our storm wasn't as spectacular as the one that hit the East Coast. Nevertheless, 12 inches is still a lot of snow, especially when it's the heavy wet kind that clogs up your snowblower, leaving you to tackle the driveway with only a shovel. Just check out this picture of my back yard as proof of that.
What made our storm unique was that it was accompanied by an earthquake early Wednesday morning. Oh, sure. It wasn't a HUGE earthquake; the U.S. Geological Survey first rated it as a 4.3 magnitude quake, then downsized it to 3.8 magnitude. But it woke my daughter and rattled the knick-knacks on the shelves in her bedroom. Three suburbs to the west of us, it also woke my son and his wife.
Because it's almost impossible to wake me once I'm asleep, I missed out on all the action. I needn't have worried, though. My husband -- aka, Mr. Weather Channel Addict Supreme -- happily informed me of the big event even before my feet hit the bedroom floor. "How nice," I mumbled sleepily as I stumbled off to the kitchen in search of my morning cup of Coke.
I confess that news of the quake barely registered in my brain; unlike Fred, who wakes every morning with a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and a weather report on his lips, it takes me a good half hour to go from "leave-me-alone" grouchiness to "somewhat-civilized-won't-bite-your-head-off" human being. As a result, it wasn't until hours later while shoveling snow alongside my husband that I learned from my neighbors how SIGNIFICANT and EXCITING this earthquake really was.
"You're kidding me," I said. "I mean, it wasn't all that...that...BIG!"
"But it's only the third one in this part of Illinois in the past ten years!" my neighbor gushed.
"Thank goodness no one was hurt," said another neighbor solemnly.
"It was only 3.8 magnitude!" I said in exasperation. "A quake that small, I doubt any injuries would occur."
"You never know," the first neighbor said darkly. "I once knew a guy who broke his neck just rolling off a bed. We were lucky this time, but the next quake could be bigger. That's why you should always be prepared. You just never know."
And I guess he's right: you never know. So just in case I miss Illinois' next earthquake -- which I will if it happens again at night -- I'm going to commemorate this one in a special way.
I'm going to have a T-shirt made that reads "I SLEPT THROUGH THE SNOWQUAKE OF 2010".