I Didn’t Expect This Book About A 1964 Earthquake To Help Me Through The Pandemic

Nearly a year’s worth of rain fell in 6 days in parts of Australia

Rainfall is easing in some parts of Australia Tuesday, but many rivers continue to rise in the wake of nearly a year’s worth of rainfall that fell in just six days in New South Wales and Queensland.

Why it matters: The flooding is the latest in a string of extreme weather disasters that have struck Australia in the past year. The country has careened from drought and devastating wildfires to unusually heavy rains and flooding not seen in decades.

The big picture: Australia is ground zero for emerging impacts of climate change, from heat waves and wildfires to flooding. Scientific studies have established clear ties between increasingly common and heavy rainfall events and a warming ocean and atmosphere.

More heavy rain is still forecast on Tuesday for southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, as well as the south coast of New South Wales, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

As a low-pressure area intensifies and moves south to the Tasman Sea, heavy rains are also expected in Tasmania, where up to 8 inches is forecast, along with strong winds…

The big picture: Australia is ground zero for emerging impacts of climate change, from heat waves and wildfires to flooding. Scientific studies have established clear ties between increasingly common and heavy rainfall events and a warming ocean and atmosphere.

I Didn’t Expect This Book About A 1964 Earthquake To Help Me Through The Pandemic

“There are moments when the world we take for granted instantaneously changes,” Jon Mooallem writes in the opening pages of his 2020 book, This Is Chance!, “when reality is abruptly upended and the unimaginable overwhelms real life. We don’t walk around thinking about that instability, but we know it’s always there: at random and without warning, a kind of terrible magic can switch on and scramble our lives.”


Downtown Anchorage is seen minutes after a powerful earthquake in this image by Genie Chance. Courtesy of Jan Blankenship

Mooallem is talking about the Great Alaskan earthquake — a 9.2 magnitude quake that struck on March 27, 1964, decimated Anchorage, led to over 100 deaths, and remains the most powerful earthquake in US history — but when I read the book for the first time last March, the scene felt uncomfortably familiar. At the time, I was beginning to suspect we were on the brink of our own catastrophe. My husband and I had, fortuitously, just moved to a new apartment so we no longer had to share a bedroom with our 6-month-old son, but after just three days of figuring out my new commute we were told we should probably work from home. Out on walks to explore our new neighborhood, neighbors were starting to wear masks; stores were starting to close…

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