Monday, August 25, 2014

California: Update-- Largest Earthquake in 25 Years Strikes Napa, 6.0 on Richter

According to The Los Angeles Times, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake shook Northern California on Sunday (August 24), injuring at least 120 people and cutting electric power across the region. It was the largest tremor registered in the area since the magnitude-7.0 Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake struck at 0320 hours and had its epicenter located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the earth’s surface about 10 kilometers (some six miles) southwest of the city of Napa and a little more than 80 kilometers (roughly 50 miles) southwest of Sacramento.

Three of the people injured in Napa--which suffered extensive structural damage--are in critical condition, including a boy who was hurt when the chimney in his home collapsed.

A fire in a mobile home park destroyed at least three homes in Napa, where the quake filled some of the streets with fallen bricks, broken windows and other wreckage.

The city of Napa said that 120 people are receiving or have received medical treatment at local Queen of the Valley Hospital.

Napa city administrator Mike Parnass confirmed at a press conference that three buildings in the town’s historic center suffered major damage and authorities declared 16 buildings, one of them a retirement home, uninhabitable after the quake.

COMMENT: As indicated yesterday, those who were planning to visit the earthquake zone should defer their plans considering that traffic, electricity and infrastructure has been greatly effected.

There are multiple reports of power outages, gas leaks and flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area and at least 20,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers are without electricity in Vallejo, Napa, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma, the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE and other media reported.

Officials are continuing to inspect the area for possible damage to infrastructure and closed two highways to evaluate their condition although the bridges into the Bay Area do not appear to have suffered any damage, according to the California Highway Patrol.

So far, the precise fault line producing the quake has not been determined, but the USGS said on Twitter that “the Browns Valley section of the West Napa fault is suspected.”

The temblor was followed half an hour later by about half a dozen minor aftershocks, the largest of which was measured at magnitude-4.0, the USGS said, adding that there is a 54% chance that a strong aftershock will occur within the next week.

Local schools will remain closed on Monday (August 25) in the region and the Red Cross has established an evacuation center to house residents who have been left homeless.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) on Sunday declared a state of emergency in the affected zone, a move that will facilitate the funneling of resources to the state agencies tasked with aiding the population after the quake.

The Loma Prieta quake in October 1989 killed 63 people, destroyed 16,000 homes, wrecked part of the Bay Bridge--the long suspension bridge linking San Francisco with the eastern shore of the same-named bay--and caused $6 billion in damages. Since then, the bridge has been strengthened to resist a new earthquake.