A powerful earthquake has rocked Southern California for the second time in as many days.
The Friday magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit about 11 miles from Ridgecrest, the town in Kern County which was very close to the epicenter of the magnitude 6.4 quake felt on Thursday.
The quake, which interrupted sports games and sparked fires, was felt in Las Vegas and downtown Los Angeles as a rolling motion that seemed to last at least a half-minute.
For some Southern Californians, earthquakes have been all about, well, the earthquake – the main event, the big one (little b and little o). But Caltech scientists in the days since the July 4th 6.4 earthquake in Kern County and the 7.1 magnitude just a day later on a nearby second faulthave a new lesson for us — or at least a reintroduction, of sorts, to the terms pre-shocks, foreshocks and mainshocks, and yes, the ubiquitous aftershocks – more than 3,000 of them, by the way, since Friday’s 7.1 magnitude temblor.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks.
The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. Thursday in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California.
Multiple injuries and two house fires were reported in the town of 28,000. Emergency crews were also dealing with small vegetation fires, gas leaks and reports of cracked roads, said Kern County Fire Chief David Witt.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Kern County. The declaration means that the state will help the county and municipalities in it with emergency aid and recovery efforts.
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden praised Newsom for declaring the emergency. She also noted at a news conference that other nearby governments have offered to help the recovery effort.
President Donald Trump said he was fully briefed on the earthquake and that it “all seems to be very much under control!”
Police and fire officials said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that they have enough resources so far to meet needs in the wake of the earthquake. Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said at a news conference that “we have plenty of resources.”
California Highway Patrol Lt. John Williams says officials have found cracks on several roads in the county, but overpasses and underpasses are in good shape.
A series of aftershocks included a 4.5 magnitude temblor, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab, said the earthquake was the strongest since a 7.1 quake struck in the area on October 16, 1999.
“This has been an extremely quiet abnormal time,” Jones said. “This type of earthquake is much more normal … The long term average is probably once every five or 10 years somewhere in Southern California.”
Jones said that the 6.4 quake centered near the town of Ridgecrest was preceded by a magnitude 4.2 temblor about a half hour earlier.
She said vigorous aftershocks were occurring and that she wouldn’t be surprised if a magnitude 5 quake hit but that they were striking in a remote area, sparsely populated area. “This is an isolated enough location that that’s going to greatly reduce the damage,” she said.
People from Las Vegas to the Pacific Coast reported feeling a rolling motion and took to social media to report it.
The quake was detected by California’s new ShakeAlert system and it provided 48 seconds of warning to the seismology lab well before the shaking arrived at Caltech in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena but it did not trigger a public warning through an app recently made available in Los Angeles County.
USGS seismologist Robert Graves said the ShakeAlert system worked properly.
Graves said it calculated an intensity level for the Los Angeles area that was below the threshold for a public alert. The limits are intended to avoid false alarms.
Glenn Pomeroy, the head of California’s Earthquake Authority, said the earthquake is “an important reminder that all of California is earthquake country.”
Pomeroy urged the estimated 2,000 people in the region hit by the quake who have California Earthquake Authority insurance policies to contact their residential insurance agencies as soon as possible. Information on how to file a policy claim is on the agency’s website: EarthquakeAuthority.com, he said.