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Erin Jo Richey

A M 6.0 Earthquake Shook the Bay Area this Morning

2 min read

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 • San Francisco, California

Early this morning, many residents of the Bay Area, including myself, awoke to the shakes and groans of an earthquake. According to USGS, the quake hit at 03:20:44 local time (Pacific Daylight). The epicenter was north of San Francisco in the Napa Valley wine country (38.215°N, 122.318°W) near the communities of American Canyon and Napa. Apparently the shakes stretched from as far north as Sacramento down to Santa Cruz in the south.

Coming in at a magnitude 6.0, the quake felt fairly long. I’ve read that the tremors lasted 20 – 40 seconds, depending on location. I heard it before I felt it and sat straight up in bed, slightly dazed and panicked as my apartment building began to groan and then tremble. It sounded a bit like low growling thunder that didn't crack and didn't stop. I kept watching my front door with its crack of light shining through at the bottom, expecting it to swing open.  I jumped into my bedroom doorframe as the ground stopped moving, although I immediately wondered if that was actually useful.

Cleo and Cassia dove off the bed and continued to look bug-eyed and terrified for the next hour.

My home, which is in a building almost 110 years old, did not shake apart. I’ve been worrying about some of my wall hangings, my wine rack, and my drooping cupboards for a while, but they all stayed affixed. I doubt I would have been so lucky had the epicenter been closer.

USGS Earthquake Map

While investigating this morning, I learned that one of the seismic monitoring stations is actually about 2 minutes from my home, just a few streets over on the south side of the peak. The intensity recorded at that location came in at 3.7, compared to an intensity of 8.4 at the station closest to the epicenter.

This was definitely the strongest earthquake I’ve felt, though not the first. I did manage to live in Los Angeles for 4 years and was never in town when an earthquake hit there.

Watching the news this morning of power outages and gas leaks, it’s a good reminder to get a 72-hour preparedness kit in place.