When a 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit the greater Los Angeles area at 7:33 p.m. Tuesday, it caused objects to fall off the shelves and shook buildings in downtown for several seconds. While it was was followed by smaller aftershocks, experts warn that another big quake may follow in days ahead.
Seismologist and California earthquake expert Dr. Lucy Jones said after the quake that its severity ranged from “Intensity VI” grade at the epicenter to an “Intensity IV” in areas further from afield. This is still strong enough to be felt, but likely only by individuals sitting quietly. The epicenter was three miles from San Dimas but the quake was also felt 40 miles away in Sylmar to the northwest and 30 miles south in Huntington Beach, The Los Angeles Times reported. There were no reported injuries or damages.
“It was moving the whole house,” Victor Flores, from La Verne California, told Times. “It shook hard for what seemed like 10 to 20 seconds, and then it just kept going. It was really loud too, kind of like thunder. It just hit really hard and quick.”
Californians are no strangers to earthquakes. The state is situated between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, which are constantly grinding against one another, causing energy to build up beneath the Earth’s surface. As a result, California has thousands of small earthquakes every year.
Very few of these earthquakes cause any destruction, but there have been recorded earthquakes that have caused significant damage and human life loss. One of the most devastating earthquakes to hit California occurred in 1906 and caused the death of 3,000. Experts suggest that the area is due for another “Big One” in upcoming years.
A series of smaller aftershocks were felt after the initial quake. Jones also warned on Tuesday that the chances of an earthquake are always greater after a first quake. She urged Southern California residents to be on the lookout for a secondary shock.
“If you are in bed when a big quake hits, often the safest thing to do is stay in bed and cover your head with a pillow,” she advised on Twitter.