It could happen next week

People really like natural disasters–watching them on TV, at least. When one actually strikes and the electricity cuts out, the food supply dwindles, and indoor plumbing becomes a memory, I’m sure there’s not so much enthusiasm. And people really like Vegas. So, despite the fact that Las Vegas hasn’t yet suffered a major natural disaster, why not put a Vegas-themed disaster on TV? Read more in the Sun:

Imagine these scenes of Las Vegas, appearing on national television:

Strip resorts collapsing to the ground. Glass and concrete tumbling onto pedestrian-filled streets. Chandeliers crashing to the floor in crowded ballrooms. Highway overpasses pancaking cars. Black clouds of smoke smothering our valley.

These depictions of devastation will be brought to you the night of Jan. 14 on The Weather Channel.

The scenes – including the computer-generated sight of Caesars Palace as smoking ruins – are presented in a Weather Channel documentary on the impact of a hypothetical big earthquake. It’s part of a series titled, ominously, “It Could Happen Tomorrow.”

Suffice to say, it’s not sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The show examines the seismic risks of Southern Nevada, and a basic-cable glimpse of what could happen here – tomorrow or a hundred years from now.

Scientists have long known that Las Vegas is crisscrossed by earthquake faults and even more active faults are a few hundred miles away in California. Small earthquakes, many that are barely or not even detectable to the casual observer, are common in the region. Larger earthquakes capable of significant damage have occurred here too, but not for about 1,000 years.

“It is long odds, but we definitely do have the potential,” says Catherine Snelson, a UNLV geosciences assistant professor who was interviewed for The Weather Channel documentary. Snelson is one of several experts in the program who also were interviewed for a Nov. 27 Las Vegas Sun story on the potential for earthquakes in Southern Nevada.

“The geologists would say we’re overdue,” Snelson says. “It is a real possibility that we could see one of those earthquakes in our lifetime.”

She says the odds are 20 percent to 30 percent that Las Vegas could have a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.

Las Vegas SUN: The ultimate ‘what if’

I’ll probably Tivo this and watch it when I can, if only out of morbid curiosity. Unless, of course, the big earthquake strikes before then.

Seriously, would you play a game with a house edge of 20-30%? Unless you’re a keno nut, probably not. But it appears that’s what all of us in the Las Vegas Valley are doing. Scary thought.

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