An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale occurred early Tuesday morning near Ferndale, California, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported.
The earthquake occurred offshore, very close to the coast, at a depth of about 10 miles (16.1 km). It occurred at 2:34 am local California time (05:34 am ET).
At 06:35 am local time (08:35 am ET) authorities in Humboldt County, to which Ferndale belongs, issued an alert stating that “due to a large earthquake.”
“Widespread damage to roads and homes is reported throughout Humboldt County. Be prepared for aftershocks. Check gas and water lines for damage or leaks. Use caution if traveling,” they said.
Good morning Redwood Coast CA. Did you feel the magnitude 6.4 quake about 7.5 miles southwest of Ferndale at 2:34 am? The #ShakeAlert system was activated. See: https://t.co/zwOapjTWaA pic.twitter.com/eMSUAT3inw
— USGS ShakeAlert (@USGS_ShakeAlert) December 20, 2022
The same authorities activated the number 1-800-743-5000 to report gas leaks.
Ferndale is a small community with 1,396 inhabitants (2021), located 213 miles (343 kilometers) northwest of San Francisco.
According to Poweroutage.us, at 7:30 am ET, more than 72,000 users were without power in California after the earthquake.
Meanwhile, on its Facebook account, the local Eureka, California office of the U.S. Weather Service said they had no active tsunami warning after the quake.
On its website the USGS reported about a dozen small aftershocks in the area, which is 250 miles northwest of San Francisco.
A road collapsed, blocking access to Fernbridge, tweeted Dania Romero, a reporter for KAEF television channel.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed broken windows, items in homes knocked off shelves and a supermarket aisle filled with spilled products.
Ferndale residents alerted
Social media users reported that they received the seismic alert in Ferndale, Los Gatos and San Francisco, but did not feel the quake.
In other locations such as Rio Dell, 13 miles from Ferndale and also part of Humboldt County, social media users report some gas leaks, the fall of a structure and damage to a historic bridge called Fernbridge.
In places farther from the coast like Redding and Red Bluff (148 miles from Ferndale) said they could feel the phenomenon for a few seconds.
State Governor Gavin Newsom has not issued any information at this time.
FERNBRIDGE EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE: Damage to Fernbridge following the 6.2 magnitude #earthquake in Humboldt County. Main road to Ferndale currently closed off by CalTrans as crews inspect for additional damage. pic.twitter.com/4BPOSvZrN9
— Austin Castro (@AustinCastroTV) December 20, 2022
There are more than 30 geologic faults in California.
The National Geological Survey (USGS) has identified more than 30 geologic faults that cross or are located in the Bay Area, however, there are seven major ones: San Andreas, Hayward, Calaveras, Concord-Green Valley, Greenville, Rodgers Creek and San Gregorio.
This group of faults is responsible for releasing the energy that accumulates from friction between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, making northern California a highly earthquake-prone region.
Seismologists say it is possible that an earthquake they have dubbed the ‘Big One’ could occur within the next 30 years. The phenomenon, which geologists say will be triggered by the San Andreas Fault, would be capable of causing great destruction at all levels.
In 1994, a magnitude 6.7 quake in Northridge, northwest of Los Angeles, left at least 60 people dead and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed the lives of 67 people.
With information from Univision Noticias