"Rumors of a massive underwater earthquake rocking Thunder Bay, Ontario and triggering a dangerous tsunami headed due south across the lake directly for the Keweenaw turned out to be totally unfounded," said WW&W seismologist Sue Naami.
"False alarm," she added, "the magnitude 7.1 fake quake simply never happened, leaving nowhere near the widespread, catastrophic destruction of unthinkable proportions that laid waste to Haiti, Chile and Taiwan."
Nor was there a kernel of truth to a mountainous wave submerging Isle Royale as it rolled inexorably across Lake Superior, capsizing 1,000-foot ore boats, and washing the entire north shore of the U.P. and the coastal villages of Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor and Eagle River out to sea.
"Their sins weren't even washed away metaphorically," said a dejected local fundamentalist thought to have started the rumor. "In fact, it backfired," he confessed in shame. "Most people fear losing there lives and homes when the earth moves under your feet; fundamentalists are afraid someone might think they were dancing."
"I know it sounds silly," said WW&W religion correspondent Amazing Grace. "They believe earthquakes and natural disasters are the fault of sinners being punished by God for their wicked ways, and not the Keweenaw Fault."
Seismologists, geologists and theologists believe earthquakes and tsunamis are caused by the slipping of secular tectonic plates.
Those who jumped the gun and started rejoicing prematurely that their days on earth were finally over and their heavenly home was nigh were bitterly disappointed to hear it was just a hoax.
"I don't care how apocalyptic you are," Grace admonished, "God hasn't done hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods or pestilence since Sodom & Gomorrah; In fact, He wishes you'd stop calling natural disasters acts of God altogether."
"You know how they say it's too late to duck once you've heard the shot?" she added. "If somebody hollers "Tsunami! Run!" it's pretty much too late no matter how fast you are."
The epicenter of the fake quake took place in a remote, untraveled wilderness area backa Helltown Swamp where there's not much to destroy; a black hole that even the most sophisticated cellphones cannot penetrate. Yet an entire hunting culture is in mourning over every deer camp in the Keweenaw being reduced to rubble, yet saunas went miraculously untouched.
"We're pretty much northa most anything you'd call infrastructure," Sue Naami said.
Shock waves from the seismic event pretty much petered out by the time they got to Copper City, where bar stools at the Drift shifted slightly to starboard, pool balls rolled into pockets by themselves, and alcohol abuse was limited to a few spilled beers. Farther inland, gently rolling spasms did hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improvements to the Calumet-Laurium metroplex while inflicting only hundreds of dollars in damages and minimal human suffering.
The quake did leave a gaping chasm between them right down the middle of US 41, giving them a good reason to be separate towns.
"We haven't had an earthquake or volcanic eruption around here for millions of years since way back before God's time," said a Michigan Tectonics geophysicist. "We're talking Precambrian in geologic time, which is different than God's time. Radiometric dating ages the earth at 4.5 billion years, well before the Book of Genesis. There wasn't even water in Lake Superior yet."
The pseudo-seismic event vented itself up, not out, and the violent upward thrust in the earth's crust pushed Brockway Mountain up to an elevation of 5,299 feet, surpassing the Mile High City of Denver by 19 feet. Mount Bohemia rose to 5,208 feet, making it the highest elevation ski hill easta the Rockies by a long shot. Olympic gold medalist downhill racers and WW&W correspondents Lindsey Vonnanen and Julia Mancusonen plan to be the first to ski the lofty new peaks wearing their uniforms from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot.
Initial attempts by local Finnish mountaineers to reach the summits failed when they ran outa scaffolding, but you know what they say about sisu.
Jim believes this is the closest he's ever come to writing a totally fact-free column and his quest to do so continues. He can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.