On August 24, 2014, Napa was awakened to a new reality.
The 6.0 South Napa Quake was far beyond any modern local experience of life in a fault zone.
What can we learn from our close encounter with this temblor?
The earthquake danger in Napa is very real
There was a time when quakes seemed like something that happened to other parts of California, like the Loma Prieta quake in 1989. Then came the 5.2 temblor in September 2000. There were some serious injuries, and a lot of damage to buildings. The West Napa Fault was suddenly a present danger. But as time passed, our attention was drawn to the threat of terrorism, a major flood, a recession, then a drought— and another earthquake snuck up on us. The South Napa Quake was quite a jolt. At 6.0 magnitude, centered just five miles from the City of Napa, it was the most powerful shaking in this area since 1906.
The 2014 quake was scary but not a major seismic event
As shocking as it may seem, the South Napa Quake would have had to be 7.0 in magnitude—TEN TIMES STRONGER—to be considered a “major quake.” According to the USGS, the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system to the west has a 32% probability of generating a large earthquake of magnitude 6.7 to 7.4 by the year 2030, and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system to the east has a 6% chance of generating a large earthquake of 6.7 or greater in the same time period. The probability of a major quake on the West Napa Fault or the nearby Carneros-Franklin fault has not been calculated to the same extent, but it’s easy to imagine how dangerous and damaging such an event would be. And needless to say, there is also the San Andreas Fault to consider.
How prepared are you?
If you live in Napa, the chances are, in the dark of the early hours of August 24, you asked yourself some questions: “What do I do now? How long will the water be off? How can I find out what’s going on?” Maybe you kicked yourself for not being better prepared for an emergency. Those who live in hurricane or tornado zones need to be prepared. Californians don't need to worry about those events, but we do need to be prepared for earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. It’s not a matter of “if” these events will occur, just “when.” Now is the time to learn from the South Napa Quake. It gives all of us in Coastal California a new reason to give preparedness some thought. Now is the time to ready yourself, your family, and your business for the next challenge that comes our way.
How can we be better prepared?
The single best sources for preparedness information can be found at www.ready.gov. This program was launched in 2003 as a campaign to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation. Ready.gov and its Spanish language version Listo.gov ask individuals to do three key things: (1) build an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan, and (3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur.
www.Ready.gov and www.Listo.gov are web sites loaded with useful information. Toll-free phone lines are available at 1-800-BE-Ready and 1-888-SE-Listo.
You owe it to yourself, your family and your community to be prepared.