I was awoken early Sunday morning by the gentle shaking of my house, I thought “pretty big but far away” and went back to sleep. A few hours I awoke to numerous emails and text messages from clients and friends…”are you OK??” Good news – we are as is most of the Bay Area.
The biggest Bay Area earthquake in a quarter-century rattled the region early Sunday morning, with a 6.0 shaker waking up locals, knocking out power to tens of thousands of buildings in Napa County and tossing items from shelves in homes and stores.
The quake was reported at 3:20 a.m., centered close to Buchli Station Road near American Canyon in Napa County, and was about 6.7 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
An estimated 2.3 million people from the Santa Cruz area to Wine Country were affected, with several thousand quickly reporting that they had felt the rumble, the USGS reported.
There has already been more than 30 aftershocks were reported, topping out at magnitude 3.6.
The last time an earthquake of this size hit the Bay Area was in 1989, when the infamous Loma Prieta quake at magnitude 6.9 caused severe damage. The largest on record was the historic 7.8 earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906.
At Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, an outdoor triage area outside the emergency room was set up to handle an anticipated influx. About 70 patients had been treated for earthquake-related injuries as of 6:30 a.m., spokeswoman Vanessa deGier said. Most of those entailed cuts, bumps and bruises, she said, but medical staff were treating one patient who was in critical condition after suffering a heart attack and another who underwent surgery after fracturing a hip.
Also Sunday, the reports of damage began to pour in. Some street lights in Napa were knocked out, and there were scattered reports of fires, the California Highway Patrol said. People posted pictures on social media of a Walmart and a grocery store with bottles knocked over and shattered. Some residents posted pictures of their kitchens in disarray. One man posted a picture of his chimney knocked over. In Vallejo, the CHP closed some roadways because of damage. There were fears of gas leaks.
PG&E’s online outage map showed more than 30,000 customers without power in Napa shortly before 5 a.m. Another 15,000 customers lost service in Sonoma, with more than 10,000 still in the dark in Santa Rosa. Outages of between 1,000 and 5,000 were reported in St. Helena, Vallejo and Pinole.
Seconds after the shaking, which lasted upward of 30 seconds in some parts, social media was flooded with witness accounts of the earthquake, including from law-enforcement and emergency personnel in the area. People reported swaying chandeliers, pictures falling off walls and bottles shattering on the floor.
There were no immediate reports of damage to Bay Area bridges.
In 2007, a panel of experts estimated there is a 63 percent chance that in the next 30 years the San Francisco Bay Area will experience a catastrophic earthquake at least as powerful as the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake that rocked Southern California in 1994. There is a far greater chance — 99 percent — that an earthquake that size will strike somewhere in the state during that time.