When experts say “The Big One” will hit Los Angeles

When experts say “The Big One” will hit Los Angeles

When you think of earthquakes in the U.S. you immediately think of California and the San Andreas Fault, the most famous earthquake fault in the world. The fault, which formed approximately 30 million years ago, runs through most of California from north to south. 

Earthquakes in the Los Angeles area don’t just occur along the San Andreas Fault.  In fact, there are more than 100 smaller active faults in the Los Angeles region and other areas of Southern California that cause earthquakes like the Northridge Earthquake in 1994.

One of the most recent earthquakes nearby include the Ridgecrest Earthquakes that struck on July 4th and 5th, 2019 with a magnitude of 6.4 and 7.1, respectively.  These quakes followed a 25-year quiet period after Northridge which killed 58 people, injured more than 9,000 people, and resulted in an economic loss of more than $49 billion.

While there are other faults in California, the Southern San Andreas Fault is the longest in the state, cutting right through Los Angeles County along the north side of the San Gabriel Mountains. In fact, for many years scientists have been making predictions about “the big one,” an earthquake magnitude 7.8 or higher that will be at least 11 times stronger than the Ridgecrest Earthquakes and 44 times stronger than Northridge.  

Predictions about the earthquake

According to seismologist Kerry Sieh, big quakes like this occur on the southern San Andreas Fault every 45-230 years; the last big one was 161 years ago.  In other words, the L.A. area is due, but the question is when?

In 2008, the first Great California ShakeOut, an annual earthquake preparedness drill in California, occurred and was based on a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the Southern San Andreas Fault. An earthquake of this size will result in shaking that will last for about 2 minutes, causing unprecedented damage to Southern California. 

The ShakeOut scenario estimates that, when “the big one” hits Los Angeles, there will be about 2,000 deaths and 50,000 injuries. In addition, 1600 fires will ignite, and most of them will be large. 750 people will be trapped inside buildings with complete collapses. 270,000 people will be immediately displaced from their homes. 50,000 people will need care in emergency rooms.  There will be $200 billion in damages and other losses. 

It could be days, weeks, and even months before power is restored; recovery from such a major disaster could take anywhere from 6 months to a year before things get back to “normal.”

Is your household prepared?

The aftermath of “the big one” will result in significant destruction due to fires from ruptured gas lines. The area’s infrastructure will be completely disrupted for an indefinite amount of time. Area residents would be without electricity, water, or the ability to contact people or get around.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you need to take earthquake preparation very seriously.  Store enough canned food, water, and gear for three days per person in your household, not to mention first aid supplies, and more. And, don’t forget your pets!

What about earthquake insurance? Is it worth it to have coverage if you live in the L.A. area? What are the pros and cons of California earthquake insurance