(WBTV) - Did your pet act strangely before the Earth started shaking during this morning’s earthquake?
Stefanie Scism asked WBTV anchor Maureen O’Boyle in an email, “Did anyone else report their dogs acting crazy this morning BEFORE the shaking?”
For centuries, people have shared observations just like Scism’s, according to the United States Geological Survey, with people recalling the moments before an earthquake when animals exhibited bizarre behavior.
This is what Scism says happened to her Sunday morning.
“I have 3 dogs and the only reason I was up is they were trying to climb on me,” she said. “They NEVER do that.”
We’ll get to what seismologists say about this in a moment.
But it turns out Scism’s experience this morning was not unique.
Soon after the earthquake, WBTV First Alert Meteorologist Leigh Brock was on Facebook Live explaining to viewers what they had just experienced.
It was a 5.1 magnitude earthquake, the epicenter in Sparta, North Carolina.
As Brock was sharing her knowledge, viewers started sharing their experiences. Some talked specifically about their pets.
“There wasn’t a lot of talk at that point of damage,” Brock said. “But a lot of viewers were saying their dogs were barking and running around and acting strange."
After experiencing something similar in California in the mid-90′s during an earthquake, O’Boyle wanted to believe her dog “knew” the earthquake was coming.
O’Boyle remembers it like it was yesterday. She was living in a home in the hills above West Hollywood.
Her three-year-old mutt Sammy started arching his back and lifting his paws like the ground was suddenly hot. That was immediately followed by deep howling sound. It was bizarre, to say the least.
O’Boyle’s house didn’t shake. She described it more as a giant “thud,” as if the house was a boat making a sudden bump into the dock.
O’Boyle wanted to believe her dog was trying to “warn” her of what was coming.
But our pets will never cause seismologists to lose their jobs.
Here’s the deal: According to the United States Geological Survey, the federal agency which studies all natural hazards, including earthquakes, there is something to the notion that animals “sense” something.
“We can easily explain the cause of unusual animal behavior seconds before humans feel an earthquake,” according to an article on the USGS web site.
“Very few humans notice the smaller P wave that travels the fastest from the earthquake source and arrives before the larger S wave. But many animals with more keen senses are able to feel the P wave seconds before the S wave arrives. As for sensing an impending earthquake days or weeks before it occurs, that’s a different story,” the article explains,” the article continued.
So yes, there is something to it. That “P wave” may be why your dog, like all three of Scism’s did things they never do moments before the Earth started to move.
It would be wonderful if animals could “warn” us when an earthquake is coming, but we would need more than seconds.
The USGS writes, “However, consistent and reliable behavior prior to seismic events, and a mechanism explaining how it could work, still eludes us.”