MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (KTXL) — The Lake County community of Middletown found itself very close to the epicenter of a Monday morning 4.0 magnitude earthquake.
“It was a nice little jolt. It almost felt like, me and my coworkers said, almost like someone just kind of moved our shoulder, moved us a little bit,” explained Louie Sanchez at Perry’s Deli.
“The ground shook a little bit, and the structure shook a little bit. But it was just a real quick like three seconds probably,” recalled Brad Robert at the Eagle & Rose Inn.
The earthquake, and a smaller one in the evening near Willows, were not strong enough to cause damage, but they might be part of a larger picture.
“After thirty years, we’re starting to see more seismicity,” explained Dr. Steve Bohlen, head of the California Geological Survey. “The Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, it took up some of the stress that existed regionally on faults. And in fact, after analysis, the USGS predicted that there would be what they called an ‘earthquake shadow,’ a window of about 25 years where there would be below-average seismicity.”
Bohlen says the earth under the Bay Area was quiet for a while. But with seismic activity picking up again, scientists are still unsure when the next big earthquake will hit.
“It could be tomorrow. It could be 20 years from now,” Bohlen said.
Bohlen says the California Geological Survey is a major player in developing a short-term warning system called Shake Alert that will send out warnings when the ground starts moving.
But since long-term earthquake forecasting still does not exist, Bohlen advises that residents should have a plan in case a big one hits.
“Six and above, and you’re going to have damage, and you’re going to have cell systems down, and you’re going to have structural damage. And so having a plan, knowing how you’re going to connect with your family without cell phones, knowing where you’re going to meet,” Bohlen said.
Although Sacramento does not sit atop any major fault lines, the city is not immune from the impacts of a regional quake.
“If the Hayward fault were to rupture from the south to the north, lots of seismic activity goes into the Delta region, and it could give Sacramento a pretty good shake,” Bohlen explained.
He also gave some tips on what to do when that happens.
“Drop, cover and hold on is absolutely the best advice,” Bohlen said.
The quake Monday night near Willows in Glenn County hit at about 7:40 p.m. with a preliminary 3.7 magnitude.