Like other areas of the country California has its disasters too. Almost all states are vulnerable to tornadoes - which in California are a rarity. The Eastern seaboard and southern States have hurricanes - rare in California. We have wildfires and mudslides which occasionally inflict other areas of the country. Except for the mountain resorts (Mammoth, Big Bear and Wrightwood) snow and blizzards are rare in California.

But we do have earthquakes. They occasionally strike in other areas of the continental U.S. (and Hawaii) but California is "earthquake country." I far prefer earthquakes over tornadoes, hurricanes, and buzzards. And we do have better climate than most of the country.

California is unfortunately part of a "subduction zone." The Pacific plate is thrusting beneath the North American plate (all part of plate tectonics, or "continental drift"). This event has caused our fault zones and even most of our mountains. Did you know that most of our mountains (the Sierras, San Bernardino's and San Gabriel's, among them) are "fault block" ranges. They are the direct result of plate tectonics and they are slowly rising.

The most notorious fault is the San Andreas Rift Zone. It stretches thousands of miles approximately north-south through the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains and north until it dives beneath the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. The San Andreas marks most of the division between the Pacific plate and North American plate. It is a "strike slip" fault, meaning it can move up or down and sideways. The western side is inching north and the eastern half south, so eventually Los Angeles and San Francisco will be neighbors - unless both are destroyed first.

The next time you travel through the Cajon Pass note the area just north of Highway 138, particularly on the western side of I-15. Those striking rock formations you see mark the San Andreas Rift Zone. The zone is about 570 miles long and last moved in 1906, causing the great San Francisco earthquake and ensuing fire. The southern section last moved in the late 1800's. It's been pretty much locked up since that time. When it moves again the results are apt to be catastrophic, especially for the Los Angeles-Orange-Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area, most of which hardly existed in 1906.

How bad will it be up here in the Victor Valley? No one can tell for certain. Will it be worse "down below?" Probably. Will coastal California fall into the ocean and make Hesperia and Phelan/Pinon Hills beachfront property (albeit the cliffs over 3500 feet above sea level)? Probably not.

Is the Victor Valley prepared for such a catastrophy? Probably not well enough. Bridges and some roadways have been retrofitted but whether they will survive the "big one" is problematic.

There are many other faults, some long and some short, in Southern California. Some of them parallel the San Andreas and some are perpendicular to it. Most of them are strike-slip faults too. During an earthquake one half might slip laterally compared to the other half. Or both sides might change height. Either would result in a lot of shaking.

The dam and spillway at Lake Silverwood is located over the Cleghorn Fault, as it's called. Movement on that fault could cause the dam to break and release all the water in Silverwood down its flood channel - which is the Mojave River.

Be prepared for the "Big One." There are survival kits available in big stores or on-line. And don't live in flood-prone areas, particularly along the Mojave Rive, the Oro Grande Wash, or the Antelope Valley Wash (Honda Valley) or the Hesperia Golf Course. I don't know how those areas would fare in an earthquake or flood but be prepared!