What is earthquake weather?

A house destroyed by an earthquake.

It’s a cramped and oppressive day, perhaps hot and humid, with clouds appearing in the sky and no rain in sight. People may view this day as typical earthquake weather, a term used to describe weather patterns that suggest an earthquake may be nearby. In fact, there is no such thing, and a general study of the pattern and occurrence of earthquakes shows that they occur in all seasons, all temperatures, all hours of the day, and in many different weather patterns.

Earthquakes can occur during all types of weather patterns.

Aristotle, the philosopher and intellectual, assumed that earthquakes were caused by winds in caves, and as such there was a specific climate that indicated them. This is definitely not the case. Like most people, Aristotle sought to explain things that were mysteries by making logical hypotheses. Since Aristotle, many people have pointed out various meteorological signs to predict earthquakes.

Aristotle hypothesized that earthquakes were caused by certain weather conditions.

While weather patterns cannot cause earthquakes, they can influence how much damage one does. Prior to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, several months of heavy rain caused the ground under structures to become soft, resulting in increased shaking of buildings and more damage overall. The rains did not cause the earthquake, but made its aftermath more severe.

Heavy rains before the San Francisco earthquake increased the severity of the 1906 earthquake.

In recent studies, a theory that has gained greater acceptance is that small differences in thermal temperature, seen by satellite, can turn out to be a good predictor of certain types of earthquakes. These changes in temperature occurred before some of the major earthquakes in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and a body of evidence is being gathered that could one day help predict earthquakes. Thermal changes tend to occur just a few hours before earthquakes, do not tend to affect the weather, and may not provide enough time to allow for earthquake warnings.

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So far, scientists have not found a reliable indicator of high-magnitude earthquakes.

For now, scientists don’t have reliable predictors for earthquakes and are far from predicting how bad an earthquake might be. Scientists rely on probabilities rather than predictions. For example, San Francisco is likely to have a major earthquake, which has been called “The Great” for over 30 years. What is likely is not always predictable. The general statements of seismologists now focus on statements like, “We’re sure it’s going to happen, but we don’t know when.”

Rather than using seismic weather signals as a guide to predicting earthquakes, it makes more sense for people who live in earthquake-prone areas to always be ready for earthquakes. There are many websites on the Internet that focus on earthquake preparedness and can give people some peace of mind if they feel nervous about the possibility of one happening.

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