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Hurricane or Earthquake: Which is the Worst Disaster?

Updated on December 13, 2018
Irma in mid-week
Irma in mid-week
SF quake in 1989
SF quake in 1989

With global warming confirmed and more extreme weather is occurring across the globe, the two major disasters are hurricanes\typhoons\tornadoes and earthquakes. Of course, to a much lesser extent is a tsunami, a by-product of a major earthquake. If you had to experience one, which would you prefer?

Having been through many earthquakes while living in California, including the big 1989 San Francisco quake that caused extensive damage, and Florida's most destructive hurricane, Irma, last year, my preference is an earthquake.


Despite many attempts to predict when a quake will happen, science is still baffled about predicting them and their intensity. Living with quakes, for the most part, is a non-event as most are less than 5.0. With these types of quakes, the jolt or rolling feeling comes and ends suddenly with little disruption in your life. Whatever damage that may occur is usually minor and life goes on within minutes after the shock effect and panic. Of course, every once in awhile, the bigger one hits, usually 6.0 and more but even then it is usually over within less than a minute, depending on your location. The chaos and panic is far greater during that time and for sometime afterwards with minor after shocks. Unless you are close to the epicenter of the quake, most likely, little disruption will happen to you personally, unless bad luck falls upon you. During the last big 1989 quake, extensive damage happened to those within five miles of the epicenter, but for most others, disruptions occurred due to collapsed roads or building damage in a chain reaction for commuters. Many could not go to work because the road was damaged.

An earthquake happens without much warning. There is no drama because it is over within a minute or less. Unless it is a big one, disruptions will be minor, if any. Of course, being within the epicenter range will cause one to have a much more unpleasant and scary event. More damage and disruption will also occur, but the quake hits and ends within a minute. If you suffered little or no damage, everything in one's life goes on normally. If you did have damage, you deal with it and move on.


Any hurricane or typhoon or tornado creates extensive drama and anxiety. This is because there ARE warnings and projected paths in the media. Because these develop over a period of time, projected paths often change, forcing everyone impacted to change their plans also. With Irma, this Category 5 monster literally covered the whole state of Florida when it finally arrived. Like many hurricanes, project paths continually changes in the week prior to impact. At first, most paths projected it to hit the east coast, with Miami area taking the hit. This projection made everyone else on the west coast (Tampa), do little. As the population in the Miami area boarded up, stocked up on supplies, and millions left the area coming to the west coast, Irma started to hint that Miami was NOT the impact zone. As the week went on, the path veered to the left and was projected to move up the middle of state. But, because it was huge, its wind would still impact Miami. Residents on the west coast now started to get more concerned. Many bought supplies and soon finding food, water, and gas, was an issue. Walmart's were empty. Many gas stations had none to pump. The drama would simply get far worse when by the end of the week, Irma was now due to hit the west coast!

With millions of residents in the Miami area already fleeing to the west coast and farther north, the west coast residents entered into the chaos and fray also. Highways were clogged for miles, gas hard to find, hotels were filled up. It became a real scene from the many disaster movies as panic crept in slowly. The drama was high for many residents who had waited and now a decision had to be made: stay or leave.

Irma winds were over 150 mph and with half of the southern state attempting to flee, and having experienced all the insanity, shortages, worry, as we also sought refuge, give me an earthquake instead!


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