Quake predictor featured
Oct. 17 will mark the 17th anniversary of the “World Series Quake,” which rumbled through the San Francisco Bay Area and was felt as far as South Lake Tahoe. There is one man behind this cataclysm that is often celebrated for his uncanny forecast of this unforgettable event.
On Oct, 13, 1989 – just four days before the quake – geologist Jim Berkland had called the Gilroy Dispatch to report this was a “perfect” time for a tremor to hit. It read: “A county geologist is predicting an earthquake to the Bay Area anytime from tomorrow to the 21st of October. It will be the ‘World Series Quake,’ according to Santa Clara County geologist Jim Berkland.” He predicted the shaker could be a 3.5 to 6.0 on the Richter scale, basing his prediction on the unusual gravitational pull of the moon, earth, and missing pets in a Bay Area newspaper’s lost and found column.
What led this California geologist to stick his neck out this way? Cats and dogs. While Berkland relies on moons and tides before pets, this time was different. Three weeks before he phoned the Gilroy Dispatch, there were 27 missing cats, a record high compared to an average of four or five. There were also 57 dogs missing in late September, again a record high except for the usual Fourth of July fireworks scares.
Four days after he notified the newspaper, at 5:04 p.m., just as the third game of the 1989 World Series was about to begin, the ground shook violently for 15 seconds along the San Andreas fault. It was the deadliest earthquake to jolt Northern California since the San Francisco quake of 1906.
Berkland wasn’t surprised. While most experts could pin down the next California quake within a 30-year span, Berkland was right to week.
Berkland and local author Cal Orey, who penned “The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes: Jim Berkland, Maverick Geologist-How His Quake Warnings Can Save Lives,” will be discussing the backlash of events that followed his World Series Quake hit (along with his latest predictions for the Lake Tahoe basin) here on the South Shore. Both geologist and author will be signing the book. (In August, a book publisher in India purchased translation rights.)
The event will be 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Neighbors Bookstore, 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 23, in the Village Center.