In the early hours of Sunday morning, an earthquake measured at 6.0 in magnitude woke residents of Northern California from their sleep. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the earthquake was four miles northwest of American Canyon, which is located approximately six miles south of Napa, eight miles from the town of Sonoma and 51 miles southwest of Sacramento. The earthquake hit at 3:20 a.m. local time and almost immediately social media was buzzing with unofficial photos and videos posted by users affected by the earthquake. The USGS has stated that Sunday’s earthquake is the largest to have hit the San Francisco Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, which was 6.9 in magnitude. Residents are being advised not to call 911 unless they have a real emergency.
San Francisco’s CBS Bay Area has reported that there have been 36 aftershocks recorded so far from the 6.0 earthquake and according to the USGS, aftershocks with a magnitude as high as 5.0 can be expected to occur during the next week. Generally, aftershocks are of a lesser magnitude than the initial earthquake but residents are still advised to be prepared.
Early reports indicate that at least 50,000 people are currently affected by power outages and there are multiple road closures. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), closures include sections of Hwy 37 and drivers are being advised to expect significant delays. By some reports there are specific concerns about the elevated bridge that connects downtown Vallejo with Interstate 80. Eyewitness reports indicate that there may be “cracks of more than one inch” on various Napa County roads. According to the CHP, most of the roadway damage is in Napa and Sonoma areas while Marin and Santa Rosa areas appear to have been much less affected.
According to Volcano Discovery, which maintains a live “I felt it” section, the 6.0 magnitude earthquake was experienced by people in a variety of ways with most being woken from their sleep by moderate to violent shaking. In Mill Valley, which is 14 miles north of San Francisco, one user reported the earthquake as it, “felt like the house was going up and down and almost rolling as if we were on a wave.” As far north as Dixon, 23 miles south of the state capitol in Sacramento a user reported, “…at first I thought it was a heavy vehicle going by the house…shook for half a minute with a few stronger intensities dropping back and forth from hard to light, then rolled into silence.” Reports were much stronger in American Canyon where users described it as “violent shaking” with one person reporting, “Holy Moly that went on forever. Everything moved, doors won’t close, broken glass, water sloshed out of the toilets! Our ceiling fan is hanging out of the ceiling!”
California, with over 37,000 tremors a year and over 300 large fault lines is considered one of the most seismically active locations in the world. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Northern California’s Bay Area Sunday morning has many residents rattled as they worry about the next “big one.”
By Alana Marie Burke