Southern California Earthquake Rattles a State Wary of the ‘Big One’
Second Powerful Earthquake Rattles Southern California
Just one day after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, Southern California was hit with a stronger 7.1-magnitude temblor. Experts warn more episodes may be expected.CreditCreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
By Tim Arango and Thomas Fuller
LOS ANGELES — In the bottom of the fourth inning, Dodger Stadium swayed. Rides at Disneyland were evacuated, and so were movie theaters in Los Angeles. Near Palm Springs, pools sloshed and chandeliers at a casino rocked. And in the Mojave Desert town of Ridgecrest, Calif., fires roared, power went out and grocery store shelves came crashing down.
For the second time in two days, a powerful earthquake struck Southern California on Friday night, shaking a large area already on edge, from Las Vegas to Sacramento to Los Angeles to Mexico, rattling nerves and disrupting plans on a holiday weekend. There were no reports of fatalities and no significant damage to infrastructure, but as day broke rescue crews were still surveying damage in Ridgecrest, near the earthquake’s epicenter, and putting out fires.
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rattled Southern California on Friday came one day after the strongest recorded quake there in 20 years — and seismologists warned that more episodes are expected.
To a large degree, navigating life in California means making peace with Mother Nature. Wildfires and mudslides are yearly events, made worse in recent years amid climate change. But Californians live in constant awareness, if not outright fear, of the possibility of a devastating earthquake — the “Big One,” as everyone says. And so as people across Southern California woke up Saturday morning grateful for being spared this time, there was the sense that Friday night’s temblor could have been just a foretaste of something bigger. Officials were urging residents to keep supplies handy — batteries, flashlights, a pair of sneakers — if they hadn’t already.
“Don’t be paralyzed by fear,” Josh Rubenstein, the spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, wrote on Twitter. “Arm yourself with knowledge and a plan. Talk about what you would do when a big one hits. I myself just did that with my daughter and my wife.”
The United States Geological Survey reported that the latest earthquake’s epicenter was in the Mojave Desert, 11 miles from Ridgecrest — near where a 6.4-magnitude quake had hit about 36 hours earlier. Since Thursday’s earthquake, the area had been jolted by rolling aftershocks, including one of a 5.4 magnitude that had roused Californians on Friday morning.
“Hold on, it’s going again,” Jade Alexander, the manager of the Rodeway Inn & Suites in Ridgecrest, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, said in a phone interview after another aftershock on Friday night. She said the aftershocks had been coming every five minutes.
Although the area where the earthquake struck is sparsely populated, the navy has a weapons-testing facility, the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, just outside Ridgecrest.
“It’s constant,” said Ms. Alexander, whose hotel in Ridgecrest is less than a five-minute drive from the naval station. “My anxiety level is over the limit.”
“The floor is cracked,” she added, saying that bookshelves, lockers and televisions had been thrown to the ground.
The aftermath of a rockslide in Kern County, Calif., caused by the earthquake on Friday.CreditLisa Walker/Social Media via Reuters
The quake, which struck at about 8:20 p.m. local time, was felt across a much wider area than Thursday’s quake, with reports of power failures in Los Angeles and of some damage in San Bernardino County. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency for the Ridgecrest area, and is asking for an emergency declaration from President Trump so federal funds can be made available.
In a news conference late Saturday morning, Mark Ghilarducci, the director of California’s Office of Emergency Services, said power was back on for most of Ridgecrest, but warned that hot weather and winds forecast for the coming days would heighten the risk of wildfires. And Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said that it appeared that no buildings had collapsed.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist, said during a Friday night briefing by the United States Geological Survey that there would be more aftershocks. “It is clearly an energetic system,” Dr. Jones said.
Leena Panchal, a manager of Americas Best Value Inn & Suites, another hotel in Ridgecrest, said people had rushed outside because they had felt unsafe being indoors.