Loma Prieta EQ | History.com

Shake Out the Most Notorious California Earthquakes

The famous naturalist John Muir once wrote “I was awakened by a tremendous earthquake, and though I

John Muir, 1907

hadn’t ever before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange thrilling motion could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, both glad and frightened, shouting, ‘A noble earthquake! A noble earthquake’ feeling sure I was going to learn something.” Most can relate to that quote. We too are thrilled, if not terrified, by the shaking of the ground beneath our feet, and would be compelled to run out of our cabin should that be our current shelter of choice. Considering it “noble” might be a stretch, but one thing is certain – we have learned a lot about earthquakes since Muir’s death in 1914.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services continues to work with experts to better understand and prepare California’s population for earthquakes. The California Earthquake Early Warning System is building a full head of steam, undergoing beta testing as I write this, and each year in October, California and much of the world hold their Great ShakeOut earthquake drills. The idea is millions of people worldwide will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. This year, 2018, marks the 10th Anniversary of ShakeOut, which began in southern California in 2008.

To get an idea of just how important it is to be prepared and know what to do during a tremblor look at the information below. The devastation that California has endured over the last 120 years or more is tremendous. But improvements in building technology and codes, along with education and preparedness is reducing the overall impacts of earthquakes. However, we can’t rest on our laurels. The only way to maintain the upper hand with natural disasters like these is to lean forward and continue our scientific research, improve construction methods and prepare ourselves for the next big one.

 

Most Notorious California Quakes

1994, Jan. 17   6.7       Northridge      57 dead; more than 9,000 injured; about $40 billion in property damage

1989, Oct. 17  6.9       Loma Prieta     63 dead; 3,737 injured; $6 billion in property damage

1906, Apr. 18  7.8       San Francisco Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 3,000 dead; $524 million in property damage (includes damage from fire)

Deadliest

1906, Apr. 18  7.8       San Francisco 3,000 dead

1933, Mar. 11 6.4       Long Beach     115 dead

1971, Feb. 9    6.6       San Fernando  65 dead; more than 2,000 injured

1989, Oct. 17  6.9       Loma Prieta     63 dead; 3,737 injured; $6 billion in property damage

1994, Jan. 17   6.7       Northridge      57 dead; more than 9,000 injured; about $40 billion in property damage

1812, Dec. 8    7.3       Wrightwood    40 dead at San Juan Capistrano

Most Powerful

1857, Jan. 9     7.9       Great Fort Tejon earthquake  1 dead; damage from Monterey to San Bernardino County

1906, Apr. 18  7.8       Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 3,000 dead; $524 million in property damage (includes damage from fire)

1980, Nov. 8    7.4       West of Eureka           6 injured; $2 million in property damage

1872, Mar. 26 7.4       Owens Valley              27 dead; 56 injured; $250,000 in property damage

1892, Feb. 24  7.3       Laguna Salida, Baja California Damage to San Diego and Imperial Valley

1952, July 21   7.3       Kern County                12 dead; $60 million in property damage

1954, Dec. 16  7.3       Fairview Peak, near Fallon, NV

1992, June 28  7.3       Landers                       1 dead; 402 injured; $91.1 million in property damage

Source: California Department of Conservation

*Damage estimates have not been adjusted for inflation.

Note: This list includes earthquakes larger than M 6.5 having epicenters located within about 100 miles of California.

Links

Significant California Earthquakes

Cal OES Earthquake Program

Podcast: Knowing Before Feeling the Shake, Rattle and Roll of an Earthquake

Podcast: Chief Larry Collins on Haiti, Japan, Northridge and Loma Prieta Earthquakes and the Evolution of US&R

Loma Prieta Earthquake: 27 years later

San Francisco Remembers 1906 Earthquake

Cal OES, FEMA Strengthen Bay Area Catastrophic Earthquake Preparedness

Cal OES Partners

California Geological Survey Earthquake Program

Business and Industry Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness

Loma Prieta Earthquake Shakes Bay Bridge Series

Tim McCarver & Al Michaels | ABC Sports

ABC 1989 World Series Game 3 Earthquake

“I’ll tell you what we’re having an earthquake… I don’t know if we’re on the air or not, and I’m not sure I care… That’s the greatest open in the history of television, bar none!”

Al Michaels | ABC World Series Announcer

Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

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