All of California’s vulnerabilities seemed to be on display on Sunday afternoon. In addition to the lashing rains of a very rare tropical storm, firefighters near the Oregon border were battling a wildfire that grew by 2,000 acres overnight.
And then the ground shook.
The 5.1-magnitude earthquake centered near Ojai, Calif., was unlikely to have caused serious damage. But residents in Los Angeles, 60 miles southeast of the epicenter, felt swaying that lasted long enough to take notice.
A 3.5-magnitude earthquake often feels like a quick jolt, as if someone just bumped into your desk. The Ojai earthquake was slightly more significant than that and may have caused some minor cracking in walls, according to Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Though the earthquake was felt in much of Santa Barbara County, just 15 miles from Ojai, there haven’t been reports of damage so far, said Jackie Ruiz, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.
“Luckily, the people are fine, our neighbors seem to be fine, the new car in our garage is fine, and Bernice, one of our seven-year-old mini-schnauzers, is nearly fine. A half-hour later she’s still shaking, panting and cowering on Maggie’s lap. Naturally, Leavin’, her chill buddy, has already fallen asleep.”
Soon after the quake, Ventura County fire officials asked property owners near the epicenter to survey their structures for damage.
The area of greatest shaking was in Ojai. The shaking intensity there was considered moderate based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale, according to calculations by the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s enough to break windows, overturn unstable objects and stop pendulum clocks.
Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo probably felt light shaking as defined by the scale. That’s strong enough to rattle dishes and windows and can feel like a truck hitting a building.
The quake was centered four miles southeast of Ojai and 10 miles northeast of Ventura in a remote area of Sulphur Mountain. That is 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Ventura County officials said the earthquake occurred along the Sisar fault system.
Seismologist Lucy Jones said on social media that Sunday’s Ventura County earthquake was preceded by a small foreshock sequence, the largest of which was magnitude 2.5, that began Saturday morning.
The quake has been followed by several aftershocks.
Southern California residents described receiving an earthquake early warning on their cellphone’s MyShake app before feeling the shaking. One person described getting seven seconds of warning.