December 22, 2003


A blog scoop! Here's the news before anyone's reporting it. We just had an earthquake here. Very minor for our standards, by the time it reached us, but nice and big at its epicenter which appears to be San Simeon, CA (home of Hearst Castle). This map shows the earthquake and you can see San Jose above the large square which shows why we felt it. According to this chart, the epicenter was 121 miles from San Jose City Hall, which puts it 122 miles away from us. The magnitude was 6.5 which is actually pretty large. It felt like a low 4 to us. It was a very long earthquake--most small quakes are fewer than 10 seconds but this seemed to last about 30. That's a totally unscientific observation, however. San Simeon is near Central California's wine region--the Paso Robles, Santa Maria area. There's not much around there so I wouldn't expect huge damages despite the size of the quake. To put the size into perspective, this quake was 6.5. The Northridge quake in Los Angeles that destroyed some freeways was a 6.7. The Loma Prieta quake in the San Francisco bay area that collapsed the Bay Bridge and did tremendous damage was a 6.9.

Kevin just got off the phone with his parents and they felt the earthquake as well, in Orange County.

Remember, you heard about it here first! Well, actually, the US Geological Survey has the first news, but close enough.

Update: At the USGS earthquake site you can fill out a form to say how you experienced the quake at your location. Here's the map it generates. Looks like fellow San Jose residents felt it as a "weak" quake, level III, where a bunch of Torrance residents (where my parents live and where we'll be going in a few hours) felt it as a "light" quake, level IV.

The epicenter is right along highway 101, one of the two main highways going from Los Angeles to Northern California. Obviously we won't be taking the 101. Hopefully this won't increase traffic on Interstate 5. I doubt it will.

Update: And now the media picks up on the story. Here's the San Francisco Chronicle and CNN. Looks like Hearst Castle was evacuated. Also interesting is that it looks like the quake came from an unknown fault alongside the San Andreas.

Posted by Shelby at December 22, 2003 11:51 AM

I was driving from Oakland to San Francisco at the time. I didn't feel anything because I was driving but I people in San Fransico were saying they felt it.

Posted by: suzi at December 22, 2003 11:10 PM
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