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Earthquake Alert

Earthquake alert: the Ridgecrest warning

One year ago, the strongest earthquake event in California in 20 years hit Ridgecrest. The area continues shake today. Ridgecrest is over 170 miles away from Palm Springs but the shaking was still noticeable here. In fact, people in Sacramento, to Phoenix, Arizona, and down through Baja California, Mexico felt the quake.

The first of the event struck on July 4, 2019. It was a 6.4 magnitude. Dr. Lucy Jones, seismologist with the California Institute of Technology, said, “The 6.4 was the main shock, until the 7.1 was triggered.” The next day, on July 5th, a 7.1 magnitude hit in the same area. Meaning, the 6.4M became the foreshock. 

News Channel 3’s Taban Sharifi visited Ridgecrest one year later. She spoke with Mike Kastoun, a convenience store manager in Ridgecrest. He said as he recalled the event, “The bottles start shaking, the whole store start shaking, shelves, everything was dropping down, the glass start breaking.” He said his entire store was destroyed. He added, “We lost a lot of money, a lot of product, a lot of inventory.”

Another resident of Ridgecrest, Lisa Lavelle, said, “My two bookshelves had emptied, almost emptied, everything on the floor.” Sandra Gates, also lives in Ridgecrest, she said she remembers for days and weeks sirens going off in the area.

Convenience store in Ridgecrest, California: During the earthquake

Dr. Lucy Jones said the area has seen over 40,000 aftershocks in the last year over a 1.0 magnitude. She said there could still be another 5 years of aftershocks. The aftershock sequence continues until the rate of earthquakes get back down to what it was before the main shock. Jones said, “One week in June of 2019, that area had 7 earthquakes that we could record. This week in June, it’s had 260 earthquakes.”

News Channel 3’s Jake Ingrassia visited the area last year after the earthquakes. Taban Sharifi went back to one of the same gas stations Jake Ingrassia visited the year before. As of July 2020, the damage to that gas station, just 20 miles from Ridgecrest in a town called Trona, still remained and was closed. 

When talking about the distance this earthquake was felt, Jones said, “The bigger earthquakes produce bigger waves but they also produce more long period waves, which travel farther and therefore help it be felt at a much larger distance.” 

Convenience store in Ridgecrest, California: After the earthquakes

Residents in the Coachella Valley felt a strong shaking from the 7.1 magnitude quake. Raymond Bordeaux, one Coachella Valley resident, said, “It was like the entire world started moving. It was different than a normal earthquake because there was so much movement and so much rocking.” Kelly Rice, another resident of the Coachella Valley recalled, “My husband was like, oh my god the pool is moving.” She said the water was really splashing up the pool at her house.

Dr. Lucy Jones explained that the Coachella Valley will feel an even bigger shaking due to the proximity to the San Andreas fault. We need to be prepared for power outages, broken water pipes, and the inability to leave the area. Jones said, "When you’re in Palm Springs, you have the San Andreas right next to you and that is not a nascent fault, that’s a very well developed fault, which means it’s capable of even bigger earthquakes." She emphasized, when you live in Palm Springs, “you are facing a future with much greater shaking.”

Jones also brought attention to how little ways there are in and out of the valley. She said, “Both Interstate-10 to the east, Interstate-10 to the west cross the San Andreas fault, and will be broken when that earthquake happens.” 

Her biggest advice is to be prepared and talk about what you and your family would do under circumstances of no electricity, no water, and sheltering in place. She said families should have a meeting place if power goes out and communication is out of reach. She used the perspective of the coronavirus pandemic. Jones said, “As we are going through the pandemic now, we always knew this was going to happen at some point, but we didn’t think about it and so we weren’t ready and it’s made it much more difficult.” She said water should be the first, second, and third most important thing. Water pipes are easily broken during an earthquake, added Jones. The bottom line, “The more prepared you are, the better you’re going to be able to handle it.” 

News Channel 3’s Taban Sharifi will have the full story on what took place last year and the reminder is serves for the Coachella Valley to stay prepared. Tune in on Monday night to "Earthquake Alert - The Ridgecrest Warning" at 6 p.m. on KESQ.

For details on an app Governor Gavin Newsom urges people in California to download on getting earthquake warnings before they happen, CLICK HERE or click the following link: https://kesq.com/news/2019/10/18/new-earthquake-warning-app-unveiled-during-annual-great-shakeout-drill/

Cities in the Coachella Valley have been working to do their part in preparing residents for the next big earthquake. CLICK HERE or go to the following link to see how Palm Desert has gotten the word out to residents. https://kesq.com/news/news-headlines/2020/02/25/coachella-valley-cities-taking-measures-to-make-sure-the-public-is-prepared-for-the-next-big-earthquake/

Do you have an emergency kit ready? If you are looking for what you should have in an emergency survival kit, you can CLICK HERE to see what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, or visit the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/supplies.html

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.

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