A preliminary magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook northern California early Tuesday, shaking residents, damaging infrastructure and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Officials said at least two people were injured in the quake, which damaged buildings and roads in Humboldt County, about 250 miles north of San Francisco.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 2:34 a.m. PT in Pacific waters about 7.5 miles west of Ferndale at a depth of more than 16 miles. The city is located 12 miles south of Eureka, near the California and Oregon state line.
USGS he warned The 6.4 magnitude quake was followed by “many” aftershocks, including some that could reach magnitude 4. More than two dozen aftershocks were recorded on the USGS website, most below 4 degrees.
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As of Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service’s tsunami warning system reported no tsunami threat associated with the quake, which was the area’s worst in years.
“Check gas and water lines for damage or leaks. Use caution if traveling,” Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services. he tweeted at 6:30 a.m. PT.
Roads, homes damaged around Humboldt County, California
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced Reports of damage to houses and roads throughout the region of around 136,000 inhabitants.
Two injuries were confirmed, sheriff’s information specialist Samantha Karges told USA TODAY. Several other injuries were reported but were awaiting confirmation, Karges said.
Officials reported at least two structure collapses where crews rescued people with grabs. Details about those incidents were not immediately available.
The victims whose injuries were confirmed were expected to recover, Karges said.
Besides Ferndale, most of the destruction, Karges reported, occurred in Rio Dell, Fortuna and Scotland in the Eel River Valley.
As of 9 a.m. PT, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported tens of thousands of customers without power in the area. In Humboldt County alone, where Ferndale is located, more than 71,000 people were in the dark.
Some gas leaks were also reported.
PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado told USA TODAY that the utility has initiated its emergency response plan and that crews were responding to gas and electrical hazards following the earthquake and aftershocks in Humboldt County.
“Our evaluation may take a few days,” Tostado said. “All customers are asked to use caution around heavily damaged buildings.”
“I’ve never felt anything like this in my life”
Diana McIntosh, 69, said the shaking woke her inside her home at an apartment complex in central Humboldt County.
“It felt like the north and south were rocking back and forth, and it was getting bigger and bigger. I heard bangs, things crashing, glass breaking,” said McIntosh, who lives alone in his apartment near Pacific Expressway.
McIntosh, who said he has lived in the Eureka area for 65 years, called it the biggest earthquake he has ever experienced.
“I was screaming,” she said. “The way it shook… I’ve never felt anything like it in my life.”
McIntosh said her home, where some furniture was not anchored to the walls, sustained damage.
“My water is brown. There’s no electricity. It’s 60 degrees in my apartment and it’s dropping,” she said.
A photo posted online by the California Department of Transportation showed State Route 211 connecting Ferndale and US 101 in the quake. The Ferndale Fire Department reported other road closures in the area, including Blue Slide Road, which runs parallel to US 101, a major north-south highway from Los Angeles to Washington state.
Another nearby resident, Caroline Titus of Ferndale, posted on Twitter: “North/South shaking very noticeable when it fell. This was our coffee stop. Sorry for the dark video. Still no power.”
The strongest earthquake in recent memory
Tuesday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake could be the first in California since July 2019, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the Ridgecrest area of Southern California, according to the state Department of Conservation. A magnitude 6.5 earthquake occurred about 100 miles offshore near Ferndale in 2016.
The quake came just days after a small 3.6-magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area at 3:39 a.m. Saturday morning, waking thousands of people and causing minor damage.
The earthquake was centered in El Cerrito, 10 miles from downtown San Francisco.
It also comes on the heels of a 5.1 magnitude earthquake off the San Francisco Bay Area in late October. No one was injured in the natural disaster. The earthquake occurred on the Calaveras Fault, one of eight major faults in the Bay Area and a branch of the San Andreas Fault.
Tuesday morning’s earthquake was the largest the area has experienced in years, according to USGS data. The most recent notable earthquake was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in the Cape Mendocino area of northern California in December 2021.
That earthquake was centered on the coast about 210 kilometers northwest of San Francisco, near a small town called Petrolia with less than 1,000 people.
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What was the largest earthquake in US history?
The largest earthquake in modern history occurred on March 27, 1964 when a magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the Prince William Sound region of Alaska.
According to the USGS, the earthquake rupture started about 15.5 miles below the surface, with its epicenter about 6 miles east of the mouth of College Fiord and 75 miles east of Anchorage.
The earthquake lasted about 4.5 minutes and is the strongest earthquake recorded in US history. It is also the second largest earthquake ever recorded, next to the magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile in 1960.
This is a developing story.
Contributor: Associated Press
Natalie Neysa Alund covers USA TODAY’s trending news. Reach out to email@example.com and follow on Twitter @nataliealund.