Friday’s was 10 times stronger than Thursday’s quake, according to Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones. It was about 4.7 miles deeper than the 6.4 magnitude Fourth of July foreshock that was previously thought to be what seismologists call the “mainshock,” or largest event in a seismic series. Preliminary information had listed it shallower.
It’s the most powerful temblor to hit Southern California in 20 years, tying the magnitude 7.1 quake that struck the Hector Mine area, nearly 50 miles east-southeast of Barstow, in October 1999. The Northridge earthquake in 1994 was magnitude 6.7.
While Friday’s event may be the largest, it won’t be the last — and there’s still a chance a bigger one will come.
Ridgecrest resident April Hamlin told KTLA she and her children were watching TV in her bedroom when the quake struck.
“We just felt the rumble coming and we said, ‘Here comes another one,’ ” she said. “It just kept rolling and got harder, and we grabbed on to one another. The TV flew off the stand and the lights went out … we couldn’t see but we could hear the glass breaking.”
Hamlin said there are now cracks all around her two-bedroom house, rendering it unlivable.
“Everything just piled into the center,” she said. “TVs flying, speakers flying. A lot of breakage. There were leaks outside a trailer park behind us.”
The mother said she had “no choice” but to go to the Red Cross shelter in Ridgecrest because her home was becoming too warm for her special needs daughter.
“She can’t be in heat above 75 degrees and the house is already getting hot,” Hamlin said.
The 7.1 magnitude quake was soon followed by two magnitude 5 aftershocks and 16 above magnitude 4 — and the earthquakes will continue.
“The ground is moving enough that we’re not seeing anything below magnitude 3,” Jones said of experts’ seismic assessment system.
The chance for another magnitude 5 is “approaching certainty” and there will probably be “quite a few more,” Jones said.
The chance of one with a magnitude larger than 7 is about half, and the preliminary estimate of another 7 range is about 10%, she added.