If you have any connection to California, you've probably heard your fair share about this impending earthquake we cautiously refer to as "The Big One." It creates a gripping sense of dread as a SoCal transplant realizes that, at any moment, the ground can open up beneath them and swallow them whole.
Adding a scary amount of legitimacy to something I thought belonged to movies like San Andreas, a new report from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has claimed that there is a 99.9% chance that Los Angeles will experience a 5.0 or greater earthquake within the next two and a half years.
Yep, you read that right. A geophysicist named Andrea Donnellan predicts there's near-certainty that the LA area of 2019 will look very different from the palm trees and power lines we see today. Now's your chance to say, "Nope, nope nope" and abscond in your helicopter.
Okay, so we almost certainly won't see the domino-like devastation that San Andreas presents (and, sadly, the Rock probably won't be dropping in to save us), but some elements of the movie still have a kernel of truth to them. For starters, we as a society are terrified of this force of nature and feel almost completely vulnerable against it.
Plus, with the quake projected to take place within 60 miles of the fault lines, major city areas will be hit. That means elements of San Andreas will be way, way too close to reality for comfort. I'm talking swaying buildings, loss of electrical power, decimated roadways, and lots and lots of panic.
Lucky for us, soon after the JPL report started causing waves, the U.S. Geological Survey issued a statement that gives some hope to those who were ready to flee. After Robert Graves, a USGS seismologist, admitted he had "serious doubts" about the legitimacy of the 99.9% figure, the organization released a statement:
[The study's forecast] has not yet been examined by the long-established committees that evaluate earthquake forecasts and predictions made by scientists.
So, there's still a chance we'll coast right through to 2020 without even a whimper from the fault lines. But, just in case, can someone keep The Rock on speed dial?