Who's asking: Anna Bragdon
You may have seen something in the news about a small earthquake off the Maine coast last week. I didn't feel it in Gardiner, but Anna felt it in Bangor, and things fell off shelves as far west as Waterville.
It's the second small earthquake since I moved to Maine, and I must say it's a little exasperating. In Los Angeles, I used museum wax to keep glass bowls from falling off shelves, and my bookcases were anchored to the walls; it never occurred to me that I might need those things in Maine.
Anyway, Anna asked whether earthquakes were more likely to occur in any particular sort of weather. The official answer to that is no; geologists say there's no such thing as "earthquake weather."
People in southern California, however, will tell you that they associate a certain heaviness in the air -- a sort of flat, stagnant heat -- with earthquakes. T.L. Lankford describes it well in his excellent crime novel, Earthquake Weather.
They say animals can feel ultrasound waves before an earthquake, and my stomach felt sour and hollow just before the one real earthquake I experienced (a 4.2 shaker centered in Westwood, in September 2001). Then again, that earthquake happened on a Sunday, and I don't really remember what I'd been doing the night before...
The question that remains open is whether earthquakes affect weather patterns after the event. Last week's earthquake caused a major drop in the water table in some parts of the state, and you have to figure that has some slight effect on the weather. I don't know how you'd go about quantifying that, but maybe someone who knows more will stumble on this post and elaborate in the comments section.