Strong 5.4 aftershock wakes up northern Californians on New Year’s Day

Yahoo News – Fox Weather

A strong 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook northern Californians awake on New Year’s Day. The U.S. Geological Service says the temblor that occurred 9 miles southeast of Rio Dell, California at 8:35 a.m. was an aftershock from the Dec. 20, 6.4 magnitude quake.

Over 1,400 people reported feeling the jolt.The USGS estimates that about 3,000 people in the area would have experienced “strong” shaking, that would generally have a 1-in-3 chance of producing at least $1 million in damage.  About 1,900 people would have experienced moderate shaking, the USGS estimates.

So far, there are no reports of damage or injuries. reports about 1,300 homes and businesses without power immediately after the quake. That accounts for 1.3% of the county.

Crews closed the Fernbridge over the Eel River on 211 while they conduct safety inspections.

The 6.4 quake in December killed two people and injured 11 others when it hit near Ferndale, California at 2:34 a.m. Over 70,000 customers lost power near the epicenter. Ferndale is only about 20 miles from Rio Dell.

Magnitude 5.4 is the largest aftershock that USGS scientists expected to see from the 6.4 quake.

“Usually the largest magnitude aftershock we see from a quake is about one magnitude smaller,” explained a USGS scientist. “So for a 6.4, we would expect to see up to probably a 5.4.”

In the past week, the area has seen eight aftershocks of 2.5 magnitude or above. The USGS said this was a “pretty small number.”

Just five minutes after the Dec. 20 earthquake, the USGS recorded more than 36 aftershocks. Scientists told FOX Weather that up to 68 aftershocks would likely occur through Dec. 27

“We would expect to see aftershocks going on for a few weeks,” he said. “As time goes on and the aftershocks subside, and we see less aftershocks and their magnitude is less as well.”

He continued, “The larger the magnitude, the longer the aftershocks will go on.”

The 6.4 quake was not expected to produce an abundance of aftershocks because its epicenter was quite deep at 11 miles. California earthquakes are usually between 3 and 6 miles deep, he said. And, shallower quakes produce more aftershocks, generally.

FOX Weather spoke to a resident after the Dec. 20 event who described the quake as “pretty violent.” Here is a quick look at an interview and some of the damage.

Humboldt County still has a local assistance center open for victims of the Dec. 20 quake. The Red Cross expected to close their overnight shelter on Sunday. They have not revised that closure at this time.

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