Overnight quake brings singing Christmas tree to life

12/09/2013 12:41 PM

01/03/2014 7:31 AM

Doris McGrath bolted out of bed early Monday, waked first by an earthquake, followed by the voice of her singing Christmas tree, Mr. Everett Green.

Like a scene from a bad horror movie, Mr. Everett Green began belting out O Christmas Tree as the 3.7-magnitude earthquake hit about 10 miles north-northeast of Mineral Wells, near Perrin.

“He’s got some type of sound sensory that when you clap, he would start singing, but he hadn’t been working very well,” McGrath said Monday from her home in the Mitchell Resort and RV Park near Perrin. “When that earthquake hit though, he started singing.”

The quake hit at 3:23 a.m. and is the most powerful of more than 20 temblors felt in North Texas in the past few weeks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A day earlier, a 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook Parker County about 2 miles northwest of Azle.

“With a 3.7, it’ll be felt by people,” geophysicist Don Blakeman said Monday in a phone interview from Golden, Colo. “It wasn’t strong enough for any structure damage.”

Generally, it takes a magnitude-5 quake to cause damage.

Authorities on Monday had no reports of damage in Jack, Parker or Palo Pinto counties.

But residents near the center of the quake felt it early Monday, such that it woke many residents up.

‘Singing was a very nice touch’

Jim McLennan, owner of Hashknife on the Chisholm in Peadenville, north of Mineral Wells, said he thought a truck was driving over and crushing ice in his parking lot when the quake hit.

“I thought it was odd that a truck would be doing that at that hour,” McLennan said Monday. It’s his second quake experience in six months. “I was sound asleep when it woke me up.”

McGrath and her husband, Kevin, were both awakened by the shaking.

“He has to wear a hearing aid, but he wasn’t wearing it to sleep, but he still heard it,” McGrath said.

McGrath is a seasoned veteran of earthquakes. Growing up near Seattle, in 1965, she said, she rode out a major earthquake in her hometown of Des Moines, Wash., which caused heavy damage in the area.

“I was in high school at the time and we were down on our hands and knees, and I watched my hands moving on the floor,” McGrath said. “For one brief moment last night, the noise and quickness of the jolt made me think perhaps it was a plane crash — but there are no planes around here much of the time.”

Mr. Everett Green’s singing calmed her down.

“His singing was a very nice added touch to let me know all was well,” McGrath said.

Links to injection wells

Survey geophysicists say there is growing evidence linking mild earthquakes in areas previously without much seismic activity not to drilling activities but to injection wells used to dispose of wastewater and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Not all injection wells cause tremors, they say.

The energy industry and its state regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission, have not rejected connections between seismic events and injection well use but call scientific consensus on the issue still theoretical and say more research is needed.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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