A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck southern California on July 5, just 34 hours after and approximately seven miles northwest of the 6.4 magnitude event on July 4 that was centered in the city of Ridgecrest in Kern County.
The second earthquake, which occurred at 8:20 p.m. local time, was estimated to be 11 times stronger than the first and was felt from downtown Los Angeles to as far east as Las Vegas. The quake caused lights to sway for nearly 45 seconds at the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s office, according to the newspaper. Thousands of people were without power in southern California as of 10:00 a.m. local time on July 6.
The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) issued a “red alert” for economic losses, which means extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread. USGS estimated economic losses are “at least $1 billion, less than 1 percent” of the U.S. gross domestic product, the agency stated in the alert. “Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response.”
USGS issued a “green alert” for shaking-related fatalities with a low likelihood of casualties. Ridgecrest, the closest large population center to the second quake with a population 28,000, reported “strong to very strong shaking and damage.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, who declared a State of Emergency in Kern County following the July 4 earthquake, extended the emergency on July 6 to include neighboring San Bernardino County. Newsom wrote to President Donald Trump on July 6 requesting emergency federal assistance.
“Critical roadways, including lifeline routes, are severely impacted,” Newsom wrote in his request. He noted that State Route 178, a main transportation corridor in the region, remained closed in both directions due to a rockslide. Other major roadways, including State Routes 127 and 190, were also affected by rockslides, he said.
Aside from the closing of regional state and county roads, however, major transportation networks have so far been largely unaffected from the two earthquakes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which temporarily lifts hours-of-service restrictions so that freight haulers can respond to emergencies, had not issued an emergency declaration waiving those restrictions as of 11:30 a.m. local time on July 6.
“It usually takes a day or two for states to figure out what they need,” Alex Keenan, an FMCSA emergency coordinator, told FreightWaves on July 6. “California has an excellent emergency management program, so if they need relief (from hours of service regulations) beyond what the governor receives from the state, they would then come to us.”