Gas station flag systemOct. 20, 1973: The OPEC oil embargo begins in earnest, with Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil states banning oil shipments to the U.S. in response to American support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The price of oil quadruples from $3 to $12 a barrel, and chronic gasoline shortages vex U.S. drivers into the following year. The oil embargo is later extended to Western Europe and Japan.

Oct. 20, 1984: The Monterey Bay Aquarium opens on the former site of legendary Cannery Row. The aquarium features groundbreaking exhibits on sea otters and kelp forests found off the California coast. Eleven years earlier, the Hovden Cannery had shut its doors. The rich sardine fisheries off the coast of Monterey had collapsed in the 1950s; Hovden held out until 1973 by canning squid.

Oct. 20, 2007: Fierce, dry Santa Ana winds spark the beginning of several weeks of wildfires in southern California and Baja California. More than 1,000 homes and half a million acres are destroyed, and half a million people are evacuated.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.