USGS notes potential for more quakes; Newsom declares state of emergency

A map of California, with a star signifying the epicenter of the July 5 earthquake near Ridgecrest. Courtesy of United States Geological Survey

Following two earthquakes and a series of aftershocks since July 4, the United States Geological Survey warned California residents on Saturday about the chances for more earthquakes in the days to come. 

In a series of tweets, the USGS concluded that within the next week there is a 99% chance of a magnitude 3 or higher earthquake occurring, a 96% chance of an earthquake that’s a magnitude 5 or higher and a 27% chance of another magnitude 6 or higher earthquake. 

“According to our forecast, over the next one week there is a 3% chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 7.1,” read the start of USGS’ thread based on data collected at 7:55 a.m. on Saturday. 

Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones wrote in a tweet on Saturday that over 3,000 earthquakes were recorded in Searles Valley, which is approximately 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest. 

Supervisor Melanie Flores with the Los Angeles County Fire Department said no further information regarding the Santa Clarita Valley and L.A. County related to the earthquake was submitted to her or other fire officials. Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, said deputies monitored critical areas across Santa Clarita, inspecting for signs of earthquake-related damage. 

Deputies partnered with Six Flags Magic Mountain to inspect the park’s rides before normal operations resumed, she said. 

“Thankfully there was nothing (damaged) here locally as a result of the earthquake,” Miller said. “(It) just shook citizens up and it’s a somber reminder we’re in earthquake country.” 

Reports of injuries and damage to homes and other buildings came out of San Bernardino County and Kern County. The Kern County Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol Bakersfield division notified drivers about a closure of the 178 Freeway due to falling rocks. 

Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, head of the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Traffic Section, advised drivers what they should do in case of an earthquake. 

“Stay calm and pull your car over in an area that is away from buildings, trees, overpasses and power lines,” he said. “Put on your parking brake so (the) vehicle won’t move and stay inside.”

By Saturday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County. The 7.1 quake on Friday “(caused) widespread and significant damage to critical infrastructure, including roads, water lines and gas lines, resulting in multiple structure fires…” according to his emergency proclamation. 

Newsom also arrived near Ridgecrest and Kern County to assess damage and meet with local responders, leaders and business owners. 

The governor also requested a presidential emergency declaration from President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Trump has not yet issued a tweet or other public statement regarding Newsom’s request as of Saturday afternoon, though Newsom said he spoke with the president about the quakes over the phone prior to an afternoon press conference.

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