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The Grizzly Gazette

CA’s First Hurriquake

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

On August 20, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Ojai, California as Californians were preparing for Hurricane Hilary. This incident has been widely regarded as the first hurriquake since the possibility of two natural disasters happening at the same time is extremely rare.

Shaking from the earthquake was felt all across California yet Ventura and Ojai reported that they found no damage. 

The National Weather Service Los Angeles said, “Rain totals for Hilary have smashed ‘virtually all rainfall daily records. Rain totals for Hilary as of 3 AM [on August 21]; practically all daily rain records have been broken. Some impressive totals: Lewis Ranch 7.04 in, Lake Palmdale 5.98 in, UCLA 4.26 in, Thousands Oaks 3.29 in, and Downtown LA 2.38 in.’”

These dire conditions have left people stuck on the road and fearing what the rain could bring. Flooding, landslides, and dangerous coastal rip currents caused Governor Gavin Newsome to “declare a state of emergency Saturday evening,” according to The Los Angeles Times. 

NBC Los Angeles’ Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said, “A magnitude-5.1 earthquake was reported in 1941 west of Sunday’s quake.” California had a tropical storm that hit California 84 years ago called El Cordonazo.

Scientists have stated that hurricanes do not directly correlate with earthquakes but these rare events have left Californians wondering if the two natural disasters are related. 

Alerts were sent out to citizens as a precaution for Hurricane Hilary and the earthquake.

One Apple Emergency Alert from Monday, August 21, said “National Weather Service: A flash flood warning is in effect for this area until 4:30 AM PDT. This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.” 

The City of Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino County closed the North Etiwanda Preserve from 7:00 p.m. Saturday, August 19, 2023, until 6:30 a.m., Tuesday, August 22, 2023. The city and county both anticipated high precipitation levels and damage, however, there were few damages reported but high rain levels. 

Immediately as these warnings and alerts were set in place, many schools announced closures for Monday, August 21. The Los Angeles Unified School District was the first to report this closure and many in San Bernardino County soon followed. These include Apple Valley, Barstow, Fontana, Redlands, Rialto, and Victor Valley Union High School District. 

California has never been known for its hurricanes so many people ignored the alerts that were constantly sent out this weekend.

There were worries that what happened to Maui could happen to California. These theories have been linked to the hurricanes because this was a moment that people thought would never happen, but it did.

Tirtha Banerjee, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Irvine, said, “The next Maui could be anywhere.”

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