With Year About to End Quakes Shake Southern California, Washington

December 31, 2015

A moderate earthquake shook an inland area of Southern California near San Bernardino on Tuesday night, giving a start to thousands across a heavily populated area with more than one person comparing it to a rumbling big rig.

There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

Authorities say a magnitude-4.8 earthquake in Canada was widely felt across northwest Washington state, but no major damage or injuries have been reported.

A magnitude-4.4 quake hit in foothills northwest of San Bernardino, Calif. about 5:38 p.m. at a depth of about three miles, a report from the U.S. Geological Survey said. Aftershocks of magnitude 3.8 and 3.2 came minutes later, and dozens of tiny aftershocks followed in the next few hours.

People reported feeling the earthquake throughout the suburbs east of Los Angeles, which is about 50 miles southwest of the epicenter.

EarthquakeBrenda Torres, 24, a waitress at Papa Tony’s Diner in San Bernardino said customers were a bit shook up but kept calm. Nothing in the restaurant rattled or broke and the quake was so short there wasn’t even time to take cover under a table.

“At first I thought it was a semi-truck that had hit the building or something,” Torres said.

Laura Melgoza, 23, a college student and cashier at WaBa Grill in San Bernardino, said she and her co-workers headed toward the front of the building as the restaurant shook.

“I was just panicking,” she said. “It was the biggest one that I’ve felt.”

Police in the area also said they had no reports of problems from the quake.

The quake came near the intersection of the San Jacinto, San Andreas and Cucamonga faults, three of the largest in Southern California, but it was too small to determine which fault was responsible, the USGS said.

There have been nine earthquakes above magnitude-4 In the general area in the last 10 years.

“There’s nothing particularly different about it that we can see at this point,” Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, told KNBC-TV.

Traditionally earthquakes of this size are a monthly occurrence in Southern California, but “it’s been quieter for the last few years,” Jones said.

There is a 5 percent chance that the quake, or any quake, is a precursor of something bigger, Jones said.

In the quake that struck Washington, the USGS says it struck around 11:40 p.m. Tuesday 11 miles northeast of Victoria, Canada.

Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the USGS, says it was felt for a radius of 150 miles. He says he hasn’t heard of any major damage or recorded any aftershocks.

Tom Eades, a 911 dispatcher with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in Washington, says the agency received lots of calls but no reports of damage or injuries. The agency is in the San Juan Islands, between Vancouver Island in British Columbia and mainland Washington.

The USGS website has recorded more than 10,000 reports of the quake being felt.

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