Quake in CA
December 22, 2003 11:31 AM   Subscribe

6.5 Quake Hits Central California. Felt for over a minute in San Jose, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Interesting time to discover the oft-defunded USGS's instant earthquake news page. Talk about dynamically generating your pages your pages from the ground up...
posted by effugas (68 comments total)
I am in Emeryville, CA (way way to the north of the epicenter) and we felt it very strongly for about 30 seconds. I am in an 8 story building on rollers built on top of reclaimed wetlands though, so the building acted like a tuning fork. Strongest I've felt since I moved here in '98.
posted by piedrasyluz at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2003

Yupyup; we felt it down here in Santa Monica. Thought it was a semi, but the rolling didn't stop. Rolled for just over a minute. Woo!
posted by sarajflemming at 11:35 AM on December 22, 2003

top of 6 story building in downtown San Francisco. We rolled for nearly a minute before it was over. Not the strongest I've felt, but certainly the longest. Any word about Hearst Castle? If we're 200 miles from the epicenter, what must it have felt like at ground zero?
posted by pejamo at 11:37 AM on December 22, 2003

Biggest quake I've felt since Northridge and biggest quake I've ever felt during 15 years in California (I'm in Santa Barbara), and lasted for a long time. Very gentle rolling motion, but you never know when a quake lasts that long if it's going to get more powerful or less.

The fucking cat slept through the whole thing, poking his head up only while I was yelling at my roommate to get out of the shower because we were having a big quake.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:38 AM on December 22, 2003

my strongest and longest one too. (at work in Menlo Park, about 150 miles from the epicenter). it was one of those side to side rolly ones. how long do you think it'll take to here actual news on the ground in San Simeon about it?
posted by badstone at 11:38 AM on December 22, 2003

Undoubtedly the beginning of the ancient Mayan Apocalypse, scheduled for this year. Couple big quakes, couple terrorist attacks, LET'S ROLL.
posted by jdaura at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2003

Any word about Hearst Castle?

There was no immediate report of damage from the quake, but park rangers in San Simeon have ordered evacuation of the Hearst Castle, the palatial home built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, a worker at the attraction's gift shop told CNN.
posted by jpoulos at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2003

Miracle Mile here in L.A.

Not as a violent as Northridge, but longer, I think. Definitely a roller, and the building kept on moving for a while after the quake was over.

What's amazing was how strongly we felt it, 250 miles from the epicenter.
posted by jengod at 11:51 AM on December 22, 2003

In Santa Monica, I felt like I was getting dizzy. I didn't even realize it was a quake until my co-workers started saying the same thing. Our window blinds were moving, and the building groaned slightly. Must have been a full minute, at least.
posted by waxpancake at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2003

Felt it big time in West Los Angeles (Century Tower north, 32nd floor). The building, on rollers, swayed for about a minute. I almost threw-up on my desk. I'm still dizzy and nauseous.
posted by lola at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2003

Felt kind of rolly polly here in Mountain View, almost gave me some motion sickness as I was sitting at my (home) desk during the time. This is the most widely-felt quake that's happened since I arrived in CA back in March of '96! All the way to LA and up to SF, wowzers.

On a different aspect, how many of you (who have blogs) blogged it in real time? [I did - self link]
posted by billsaysthis at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2003

I was 'on the pot' at the time and contemplated that of all the (pardon the pun) crap places to be during a big earthquake hanging out on the old porcelain throne was right up there.
posted by zeoslap at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2003

Weird. My wife told me she felt it and she's farther south than I am. I felt nothing about 150 miles away. (Fine with me, I had a house collapsing around me in the early morning of the Northridge quake, 5 miles from the epicenter.)

Undoubtedly the beginning of the ancient Mayan Apocalypse, scheduled for this year.

Isn't that supposed to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2003

Roughly Miracle Mile as well (in the 8383 Wilshire building, jengod). It was funny seeing people run to stand in the doorways, as though they mean anything in a modern concrete office building.

Doorways are only a good place to be if they have headers. This tends to rule out any non-load-bearing wall.
posted by Slothrup at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2003

Being from the other coast, I find this map to be rather alarming. It it normal to have so many distinct quakes in so short a time? Are the smaller ones all the result of the big one?
posted by anastasiav at 11:58 AM on December 22, 2003

It's normal for earthquakes to come in clusters.
posted by Slothrup at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2003

With a quake that was (apparently) very deeply centered in the earth's crust, I wondered how many/strong aftershocks are expected. News is saying that 'shocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater are 90% likely over the next 24 hours.

Aftershocks freak me out more than their parent quake. We had 'shocks for about 3 days after Northridge, some almost as strongly felt here as the parent quake itself. When the parent quake hits, you're not expecting it. With aftershocks, though, you're dreading them. This is going to be an edgy Christmas (already people are in bad moods because of the strike that's affecting all the local grocery chains--there's hardly any food on the shelves, and damn few checkout clerks).
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2003

anastasiav: That's normal. Most of them are hardly felt. It's not unusual of to stop in the middle of the day to feel a little shaker and then continue on your merry way.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:02 PM on December 22, 2003

Aftershocks: I was in high school when the Northridge (but technically Reseda) Quake hit. Not 2 days after the quake, I'm in class, reading aloud, "And then!" Room shakes.

I didn't get to read aloud, after that. (:
posted by sarajflemming at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2003

More than 20 aftershocks. Initially, they were along the fault line. Now they're all over that area.
posted by dws at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2003

5th floor Brisbane. We evacuated.
posted by scarabic at 12:11 PM on December 22, 2003

Felt it here in the Park La Brea area of LA (just north of the aforementioned Miracle Mile--howdy, fellow MeFites!). Being a New Yorker up until six weeks ago, this was my first CA earthquake. Pretty mild, actually. I had to look around my room a bit to verify that it was actually an earthquake and that I wasn't just dizzy from not having eaten breakfast. The bobblehead doll on my husband's desk confirmed it. :-)

One of my cats was catnapping on my husband's desk chair at the time and did little more than stick his head up and look around slightly befuddled, before going back to sleep. So much for the stories about pets acting crazy before/during/after quakes.

No aftershocks felt here yet.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2003

We are all of us, in one way or another, going to Reseda... to die...

Sorry, I've had Soul Coughing's Ruby Vroom on continual rotation for about a year.

Quake, what quake? I was on the phone. I felt nothing.

Hope the castle's okay. I love Julia Morgan.
posted by rdc at 12:18 PM on December 22, 2003

My parents are in Arroyo Grande, just south of San Luis Obisbo, about 50 miles from the epicenter. My mother said the shaking was pretty severe there, and now they have no power. The local radio station is reporting road damage, and they're urging people to stay at home.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2003

BTW, if you did feel the quake, please take a moment and fill out the online shake report form, which takes reports of shaking intensity via a web form, sorts them by zip code and street, and turns them into a pretty map (and hopefully some good semi-scientific data points for seismologists to use).
posted by Asparagirl at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2003

Hey, who knew that jengod and asparagirl and I were all within mere blocks of each other? I'm at the basement level at LACMA and felt a long, soft rolling -- at first I just thought I was feeling dizzy from not having breakfast, but then I looked up and saw my office door swaying back and forth. I was surprised how long it lasted too. The big-ish one we had a few years ago (the one two days before 9/11) with a much closer epicenter felt much heavier, but it quicker.
posted by scody at 12:32 PM on December 22, 2003

....but it seemed quicker.
posted by scody at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2003

I'm in my office in El Segundo (right by Los Angeles Int'l Airport). Our building is on rollers and started swaying, but at first I just felt kind of dizzy and didn't realize what the deal was until all my coworkers started migrating inward away from the windows saying "earthquake". I'm only on the 3rd floor so the swaying wasn't too intense, but went on for probably a minute or so. Interesting sensation.
posted by bedhead at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2003

Wells Fargo Tower in Downtown LA swayed and creaked for a couple of minutes. Whee!
posted by Optamystic at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2003

Hmmm, I didn't feel anything... My cats and dogs acted quite normally as well.
posted by PigAlien at 12:36 PM on December 22, 2003

Felt it big time in West Los Angeles (Century Tower north, 32nd floor).

Century Tower south here, even higher up. There was big-time queasiosity up here, and we had quite a few people who were looking a little green around the gills. One guy a few doors down from me freaked out, grabbed his bad and shouted, "I gotta get outta here!" In my capacity as a floor warden I had to yell at him to stay put and not to use the elevators.

It was funny seeing people run to stand in the doorways, as though they mean anything in a modern concrete office building.

Which is the wrong thing to do, of course. We had a course taught by a guy who makes his living rescuing people from earthquake-collapsed buildings around the world. You never stand in a doorway or get under anything; you get NEXT to a bulky object, so that if the roof or something else heavy falls on it, the bulky object creates a void space next to it. Void spaces are where survivors are found, and he described people who got under desks or beds as being "squashed like a bug". Brrr.
posted by chuq at 12:38 PM on December 22, 2003

Okay, so I'm watching the USGS press conference right now, and the guy stated that "when a quake of this magnitude hits, every grain of sand in the world dances to its music," which, to me, is divinely poetic phrasing coming from a geophysicist ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2003

I called my neighbor after it happened to have her go check on my cat and she said she didn't feel it at all. My place is near downtown, so I thought she would have felt it, but she's sitting in a single-story brick building. Seems that the people in office towers that are designed to sway felt it more.
posted by bedhead at 12:41 PM on December 22, 2003

Here's a local seismograph.
posted by Silune at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2003

Felt it fairly strong on the 28th floor of a building here in downtown San Francisco. Building swayed a bit and some office doors slightly swung open & closed
posted by birdsong at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2003

And another pretty map of shaking intensity, for your viewing pleasure.

And I'm sure they're there for a good reason, but the very idea of buildings on rollers is just too, too weird. < / new york mindset>
posted by Asparagirl at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2003

yep yep 5th floor of a 6 story building in San Francisco. I was looking at my chair trying to figure out what was going on. Very subtle and rolling.

Definately not like it was in 89 (grew up in the SF Bay Area) but the rolling sensation was bizarre. Can't believe it was so evenly felt from SF to LA.

Between this and the blackout all night Saturday there's definately been a few signs.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:53 PM on December 22, 2003

I completely failed to notice this, and I'm in a creaky wooden house from 1907 and closer to the epicenter than piedrasaluz by a couple of miles. I guess living on top of a hill comprised of a pretty hefty chunk of subterranean granite did the trick.

Asparagirl: Rollers are cool. The last building I worked in had them visible in the basement where I occasionally went to rummage the storage cage for long lost cables and they were impressive devices considering the relative smallness (only 14 floors) of the building.
posted by majick at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2003

Uh-oh. The local NBC affiliate in LA--not any of the cable news networks--is now showing live news footage of Paso Robles. It looks pretty bad: squished cars, nearly destroyed buildings.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2003

didn't feel anything here (berkeley)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2003

the very idea of buildings on rollers is just too, too weird

I thought so, too. I had this very strange mental image of a huge roller-conveyer-belt thingy, so I asked about it over here and got some very helpful answers.
posted by anastasiav at 1:05 PM on December 22, 2003

Asparagirl, I'm watching KSBY and it looks like only one building toppled over onto the street in Paso Robles (and it was mentioned that particular building was 100 years old) and squished those cars. Emergency service people are trying to get a couple of people out, and seem confident they're fine.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2003

I felt lots of rolling - held on to the desk. took another shot of glenlivet. wa? earthquake? oh, yea, 'course...

seriously, I felt it. (berkeley)

(with a shoutout to my ex-Miracle Milers, miss-my-dupars-yo-yo-yo)
posted by victors at 1:11 PM on December 22, 2003

Damn, now they're reporting one fatality in that building collapse.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2003

Any damage to the Oakland area? No MNF game?
posted by brent at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2003

Brent, the Raiders should be so lucky but I can't imagine any damage up there. We're about 150 miles north of it in Santa Cruz and, while it lasted a while, there was no damage here and Oakland is another 70 miles from here.

But I would bet it was a damned big shaker down there.
posted by fenriq at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2003

Just seems the MNF games have no luck with games in California. San Diego/Miami being moved to Arizona due to the wild fires. Just saying it would be difficult to reschedule on such short notice. Like football games matter when the cities tumble.
posted by brent at 1:29 PM on December 22, 2003

I was at work on the 5th floor of an 11-story office building in Santa Clara. It wasn't too bad, but there was a lot of rolling - I'm not sure whether that was exacerbated by this building being on rollers or something. The really interesting thing was the reaction from the non-natives, particularly those who'd recently moved to California from places that aren't seismically active.

They all freaked out pretty well and didn't know what was up. I'm glad I've experienced this before. :)
posted by gkostolny at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2003

You'll be relieved to hear I didn't feel it in Irvine.

Our mini-malls are safe. Repeat: Our mini-malls are safe. Go ahead and pick up your dry-cleaning and a Raspberry Razzle at the Jamba Juice.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2003


Hah. Anyway. Strangely, I'm in oakland and didn't feel a thing. A friend across the bay said it was the largest he's ever felt. Must be all that water in the way.
posted by jaded at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2003

The really interesting thing was the reaction from the non-natives, particularly those who'd recently moved to California from places that aren't seismically active.

I remember a short-sharp-shock kind of earthquake in San Francisco about 5 years ago... one of the guys in the house was a guest, freshly arrived from Indiana that day. By the time I looked around at the other people in the room, he was down on the curb lighting a cigarette. He didn't stop shaking, or come in, for hours.

I kinda like to just throw my hands up in the air like I'm riding a mechanical bull, and whoop at the top of my lungs while it bucks me around. (just kidding - I was a little scared too :)
posted by scarabic at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2003

One guy a few doors down from me freaked out, grabbed his bad and shouted, "I gotta get outta here!"

Grabbed his what? This one's warping my brain.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:51 PM on December 22, 2003

I'm guessing he meant to write "bag" instead of bad. Now get back to work!
posted by fenriq at 1:57 PM on December 22, 2003

grabbed his bad

You know, his bad! Like when people say, "my bad." It's usually carried along with a badge.
posted by scody at 2:08 PM on December 22, 2003

I was in Hollister (about 1.5 hours south of San Jose, an hour east of Monterey Bay) I'd just left the bank and got into my car and turned the car on. I immediately noticed that the car was rocking a lot, as if something was wrong with the motor. But then I looked at the truck next to me, which was ALSO rocking. And I thought maybe it was gusty wind. But then everything just kept on rocking, and I saw that ALL the cars were doing that. It lasted about two minutes - usually we just get instantaneous, sharp jolts around here, if anything. Everyone who was in the parking lot kinda looked at each other and started talking. I then continued onto the grocery store, tuning into the news station on my way. In the store, everyone was talking excitedly. A woman told me that another woman thought she was just getting dizzy and that she might pass out, until she learned it was an earthquake and just grabbed her cart. All the shelves swayed back and forth slightly. Doesn't seem to have been any damage to our area though. When I got home the dogs were all crazy - LOL. At the moment, looks like the USGS servers are a bit overloaded - keep getting 'service unavailable' messages.
posted by thunder at 2:31 PM on December 22, 2003

Didn't feel it in LA, but I would have been walking outdoors when it happened.

Any news about Diablo Canyon?
posted by loquacious at 3:01 PM on December 22, 2003

So when's the SoCal MeFi meetup?

I didn't even feel it here in Culver City....
posted by starscream at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2003

I heard preliminary reports a little bit after the quake that said Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant was fine - nothing since then though.
posted by thunder at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2003

obligatory Simpsons reference... "Oh, Diable Canyon One, why can't you be more like Diable Canyon Two?"
posted by thunder at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2003

Stupid fingers... DiablO....
posted by thunder at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2003

Felt a little something...at first I thought it was my cats playing around at the back of my desk. Pretty gentle rolling type of movement. Cats and dog didn't seem all that concerned.
posted by echolalia67 at 4:24 PM on December 22, 2003

Interestingly enough terrorists weren't blamed this time..that's earth shaking news.
posted by elpapacito at 4:52 PM on December 22, 2003

Just called my dad in Santa Barbara (hi WolfDaddy!) and he didn't feel a thing. But then he's fairly oblivious. I'll wait to get my brother's report.

Earthquakes, oddly, are one of the few things I miss about living in California...
posted by languagehat at 5:25 PM on December 22, 2003

And in San Diego: "An earthquake? Really? When was it?"
posted by SPrintF at 6:32 PM on December 22, 2003

I'm in San Luis Obispo, about 40 miles south of the epicenter. I work on the second floor of a 100+ year-old brick building, and we were rocking and rolling. This felt worse than 1989: really violent shaking with loud rumbling. There are a couple of buildings around downtown that have some obvious structural damage (large cracks).

Most of the damage is in Paso Robles, north of me and just east of the epicenter. Besides the one collapsed building with fatalities, there are lots of houses with broken chimneys, broken glass, etc.
posted by letitrain at 7:33 PM on December 22, 2003

I was in the ground level of a giant library at UC Berkeley. Didn't feel anything but very, very tired and annoyed to be at work.

*shakes fist*

Stupid books...
posted by Coda at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2003

i was in my abode, 5 miles northeast of grand rapids, michigan. i felt nothing, my cat continues to sleep, and i'm happy to report from my vantage point 40 miles east of lake michigan, that no tsunami has as yet materialized. we'll keep you posted.
posted by quonsar at 12:16 AM on December 23, 2003

Speaking of people who come from areas not very seismically active -- my husband (who is from England) was terribly excited to be visiting my family in Los Angeles, because he thought he might get to feel an earthquake.

Nothin' in the four times he's visited, but over here in the UK, we've had two mini-quakes in the past three years.

(I think it's my fault. I brought 'em over...)
posted by Katemonkey at 6:16 AM on December 23, 2003

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