That 6.4 Magnitude Quake On 4th Of July Was Just A Foreshock To Even Bigger Earthquake

A screenshot shows the preliminary magnitude for an even stronger earthquake that struck a day after a 6.4 magnitude shook Southern California on the Fourth of July.

For the second time in as many days, a strong earthquake struck the Southern California desert, close to the epicenter of a 6.4-magnitude quake on the morning of the 4th of July.

Early reports put the magnitude of the new quake at 7.1, many times stronger than what had previously been believed to be the main shock. Now that 6.4-magnitude temblor is considered a foreshock.


LIVE COVERAGE: Get The Latest On The 7.1 Quake


There were also indications there was significantly more damage from Friday night's quake, including power outages, structure fires and substantial breakage from the shaking.

In a tweet, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said the entire community of Trona was without power and that a "significant aftershock" was felt throughout the region.

Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to the quake quickly, activating the state's emergency response.

Scientists had earlier in the day downgraded the likelihood of a bigger temblor hitting the same area to under 6%, but always cautioned it was possible.

Dr. Lucy Jones underscored that the chance of a more powerful quake was known, but not as likely as smaller aftershocks.

"This is the same sequence," she tweeted. "You know we say 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 time."

At a news conference at Cal Tech Friday night, Jones said there still remained a chance that an even bigger quake could happen. She also reminded everyone that "every earthquake makes another earthquake more possible."

Still, she said she was not aware of a sequence in California where a third, even larger magnitude earthquake occurred, but cautioned that did not mean it couldn't happen.

The drama at the briefing Friday night was palpable. It has been 20 years since a 6.4 and even longer since a 7.1 was felt in Southern California.

WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?

Visible damage on Highway 178 between the towns of Ridgecrest and Trona in the Mojave Desert. (Courtesy of Nikki Carroll)

Residents and business owners calling into KPCC or speaking with reporters described scenes of chaos, but it was still unclear what the extent of the damage might be, or whether anyone near the epicenter may have been seriously hurt.

A woman named Nikki Carroll shared photos of damaged roads. The pavement of Highway 178 near the section that had only just been repaired was now buckled.

Several store owners called to report wreckage. The Stater Brothers market on China Lake Boulevard in Ridgecrest was "devastated," according to the manager.

The manager was unable to talk for long. He said the power was out and that there were no injuries, but that the scene was "pretty bad."

He described shelves and displays being tipped over, broken glass, and a lot of wreckage.

Caltrans reported a road closure due to a rockfall on eastbound SR 178 and advised motorists to avoid the area.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said there were no reports of serious damage in Los Angeles. In a tweet, he added that the city was sending an Urban Search and Rescue task force to help out with damage near the epicenter in Kern County.

WHAT IT FELT LIKE

Video shared on social media captured the panic near the epicenter in the moments after the quake hit. At one restaurant in Ridgecrest, where nerves were already on edge from hundreds of smaller aftershocks, a patron caught the sounds of glass and dishes breaking, the light cutting out and shouts and shrieks as people tried to make their way to safety.

Tracy Grabowski of Ridgecrest called into AirTalk from her driveway. "Directly after the quake there were sirens, just everything, and they continued... I was sitting on my couch, thank goodness with the foreshock, my son had come from his room and was sitting in the living room with me. I know that they're telling us on the news to stay inside, but my first instinct was to run for the door. It was a violent side-to-side shaking and I jumped up and had my hand on the door knob and my son jumped up and was holding our flatscreen TV so it wouldn't fall and was yelling at me: 'Don't go outside. Stay calm mom.' He's very frazzled because he's 17 and this is his first experience with earthquakes."

On a community Facebook group for Ridgecrest, some local residents wrote to our reporter with their experiences.

Amanda Rhodes wrote, "A bike fell on me. I broke my hand, my windows broke out. We're in pearsonville about 5.5 miles from the epicenter."

Rhodes said she is camping outside her house because she is afraid to go back inside.

Darcy Grattan Kirkpatrick of Ridgecrest said, "It was hard to get to safety because things were falling. We finally managed to get outside and stayed for awhile. Cell calls weren't going through for about the first 5 minutes so I couldn't check on my kids and grandkids. Very scary. Back inside now, but scared to be inside."

Alyssa Kozloski of Ridgecrest said, "My whole house was shaking! I thought it was going to collapse. I picked up my four year old and ran outside with a friend. All my animals followed and started booking down the street. We are still sitting outside and quite a few neighbors as well."

At Chavez Ravine where the Dodgers were playing the San Diego Padres, the cameras caught some big swaying even as one of the announcers told KPCC's Larry Mantle that the quake wasn't felt by players on the field.

The tremors were even felt as far away as Las Vegas. An NBA game was paused as announcers noted they could feel the ground swaying beneath their feet.

Steve Colerick lives in California City, 50 miles south of Ridgecrest, and he said the quake felt four times stronger than the one yesterday. He said waves sloshed out of his pool for several minutes.

Reporters and producers with KPCC and LAist also sent in personal reports.

Jacob Margolis, host of KPCC podcast "The Big One," said he was lying in bed when all the sudden everything around him started clanging around, and his baby woke up crying.

"The shaking seemed to last for a fairly long time in the San Fernando Valley, and we knew right away that it was a lot bigger than the one that came before on Thursday," Margolis said. "Clearly 6.4 on Thursday was the foreshock. This, so far, was the real one."

Senior news producer Rebecca Nieto said she was at the corner of Colorado and Central in Glendale, right next to the Americana, when her car started shaking side to side.

"I can't overstate how violent it felt, and I thought someone was pushing my car until I saw the van in front of me was moving in the same fashion. And then a woman who was next to me in the next lane over was screaming, 'Earthquake!'" she said.

Nieto said she saw no signs of damage as she drove home to Burbank, though her neighbor said it was felt very strongly there.

News producer Lita Martinez was just about to get on a dive boat at Ventura Harbor when she felt it start to rock back and forth. She thought nothing of it at first, but then the boat captain said something didn't feel right.

"And we looked out toward the horizon, and every other boat in the harbor was just rocking back and forth the same. The seagulls were going crazy," Martinez said. "So we felt it pretty good out here."

DID ANYONE GET AN ALERT?

L.A. residents once again did not receive a ShakeAlertLA warning before tonight's earthquake. Although the app is supposed to send a warning just before a major earthquake, yesterday's magnitude 6.4 temblor didn't trigger any notifications from the app — and many residents were left wondering why.

Officials said it's because the shaking wasn't strong enough. The app only warns users when the shaking that's likely to be felt within L.A. County is higher than a magnitude 5.0. After yesterday's earthquake, officials announced they would lower that threshold to 4.5, but the app won't be updated until the end of the month.

Officials said early-warnings systems did work for residents closer to the epicenter.

GET READY FOR THE BIG ONE

For Earthquakes, Forget The 'Go-Bag.' Here's How To Prepare

How To Not Get Life-Threatening Diarrhea After A Major Earthquake

The Big One Is Coming To Southern California. This Is Your Survival Guide

Note: This story is no longer being updated, but we will have live coverage tomorrow online and on the air at KPCC 89.3 FM.