Magnitude 5.1 earthquake hits Ventura County as Tropical Storm Hilary arrives in Southern California

Earthquake caused multiple aftershocks

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 21 August 2023 03:52 BST
Tropical Storm Hilary makes landfall as heavy rains douse SoCal

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck Southern California on Sunday afternoon as the region prepares for the imminent arrival of Tropical Storm Hilary, which is expected to cause record rainfall and flooding.

The quake was centered in Ventura County, about 4 miles southeast of Ojai, which sits 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Scott Thomsen of the Ventura County Fire Department told The Los Angeles Times “so far we have no reports of damage but we are checking.”

A map showing the location of an earthquake in Ventura County, California, on 20 August, 2023

“We are in the middle of the first tropical storm since 1939, and we just had an earthquake,” he said.

Patty McFall, a local gallery owner, told the paper, “We had some damage. We had some pieces fall. Three or four pieces broke. Others are okay on the floor.”

The earthquake, which was reported around 2.40pm, caused four aftershocks, each with a magnitude of 3 or greater, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The Ventura County Aviation unit conducted an inspection of the city of Ojai, as well as the Lake Casitas and Matilija dams and reported no issues.

“It knocked stuff over and off the shelves,” Rains cashier Frances Fitting told The Ventura County Star. “We’re cleaning up now and mopping up. Nobody was injured.”

“We got a pretty good jolt,” a store supervisor at an Albertsons supermarket in Carpinteria told the Santa Barbara Independent. “The banners were swaying back and forth, but nothing fell off the shelves.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department said it was activitating all 106 of its neighbourhood stations to conduct surveys following the earthquake.

The earthquake is unlikely to cause a tsunami, the US National Tsunami Warning Center said, nor is it likely to cause landslides or liquefaction, according to the USGS.

The strength of the quake in this location was uncommon, seismology expert Lucy Jones told ABC 7.

“This is the first time we’ve had a magnitude 5 since 1932 in exactly this location,” she said. “Within the Ventura basin, it’s just not common."

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