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What is earthquake weather?


Just another day in paradise ... or a sign of an imminent quake?
Just another day in paradise ... or a sign of an imminent quake?

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

April 16, 2013 — Can warm weather precede a large-scale earthquake? It depends on who you ask.

Some believe earthquakes are preceded by warm weather
Some believe earthquakes are preceded by warm weather

For some, earthquake weather is characterized by an unusual stillness in the air, moments before a quake.

Others say that seismic activity can be triggered by a heat wave.

But can weather actually help predict an earthquake?

A Google search of the term "earthquake weather" will prove to be less than helpful, leading you down a rabbit hole of conflicting accounts and unsubstantiated evidence.

Even some experts aren't 100% convinced one way or another.

According to the USGS, there is "no connection" between weather and seismic activity.

"Earthquakes are the result of geologic processes within the earth and can happen in any weather and at any time during the year," the agency says on its website.

According to the USGS, earthquakes occur in all types of weather and in all climate zones
According to the USGS, earthquakes occur in all types of weather and in all climate zones

"Wind, precipitation and barometric pressure changes affect only the surface and shallow subsurface of the Earth. Earthquakes are focused at depths well out of the reach of weather, and the forces that cause earthquakes are much larger than the weather forces. Earthquakes occur in all types of weather, in all climate zones, in all seasons of the year, and at any time of day."

Kyle Hunter, a geoscientist and weather expert based in Los Angeles, says that while his research in this area is limited, it did turn up a "statistically significant" correlation between warmer weather and earthquakes.

He says his analysis of earthquakes measuring magnitude 5.0 and larger in southern California over a period of 40 years "demonstrates that temperatures were indeed higher five days preceding a moderate earthquake."

He stresses that no definitive conclusions should be made from his raw study, but his findings may substantiate more analysis.

"It should be noted that recent research has found what appears to be real correlations between certain above ground variables - like higher pressure and water infiltration - and the triggering of earthquakes," he says.

"Although scientists have always dismissed the possibility that weather, or similar above ground variables, could trigger deep, underground earthquakes, it appears those thoughts may be changing."


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