In an extraordinary turn of events, Southern California faced a unique combination of natural phenomena on a single Sunday, with an earthquake rattling Ventura County as the region simultaneously battled its first tropical storm in decades. This seismic event, referred to as a ‘Hurriquake,’ drew widespread attention and concern.
The magnitude-5.1 earthquake struck at 2:41 p.m., taking many Southern Californians by surprise, especially as they were already bracing themselves for the remnants of Hurricane Hilary. The storm had already brought hours of uncharacteristic steady rain during the region’s driest month of the year. The earthquake was followed by at least a dozen aftershocks, some registering at magnitude-3.0 or higher.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located approximately four miles southeast of Ojai, a picturesque town situated roughly 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Reports of shaking poured in from various locations, including Ventura, Camarillo, Oxnard, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Santa Barbara, parts of LA’s San Fernando Valley, Malibu, Porter Ranch, Manhattan Beach, and more.
At Tres Hermanas restaurant in Ojai, security cameras captured images and the unsettling sound of the intense shaking. Ojai, known for its scenic beauty and located on the outskirts of Los Padres National Forest, boasts a vibrant downtown village area featuring art galleries, shops, and bars. Fortunately, no significant damage was immediately reported, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department conducted an aerial survey, confirming no harm to Lake Casitas Dam, Matilija Dam, or the city of Ojai.
In response, the Los Angeles city fire department activated its Earthquake Operation mode, deploying all 106 neighborhood fire stations to conduct damage assessments.
Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones noted the exceptional nature of this earthquake’s location, stating, “This is the first time we’ve had a magnitude-5 in exactly this location since 1932, even within the Ventura basin.” A magnitude-5.1 earthquake had been reported in 1941 west of Sunday’s quake, with some aftershocks from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake occurring east of the current location.
The term “hurriquake” quickly gained traction on social media following the tremor, highlighting the unusual convergence of events.
Dr. Jones also cautioned that additional aftershocks are likely to occur in the coming days, maintaining a heightened state of alert.
Remarkably, this earthquake coincided with the arrival of a rare tropical storm in the Los Angeles area, marking the first such occurrence in decades. A tropical storm warning covered Southern California, with most of Los Angeles County under a flash flood warning, as rainfall was expected to persist into Sunday night.
Southern California had not experienced a tropical storm landfall since September 25, 1939, when a system lost its hurricane status just before reaching Long Beach, resulting in catastrophic consequences.
Millions of Southern Californians received back-to-back emergency alerts on their phones, with the first indicating a flash flood warning and the second warning about the Ventura County earthquake. These dual alerts underscored the unprecedented nature of the day’s events, prompting both concern and discussions about the region’s vulnerability to such rare occurrences.