Disaster Zone

Northridge Earthquake — 25 Years Ago

We are overdue for another significant earthquake.

by Eric Holdeman / January 23, 2019

If you ask the average American about earthquakes, they will likely bring up California as the place where these events happen. Our national media is generally focused on that singular state and the risks there. People in the Pacific Northwest know that they too are at risk — but in their minds not at the same level that California is.

See the AP story below was shared by Steve Myers.  I remember the Kobe earthquake also happened in January one year later. Maybe this is the year that we remember for a long time because of the "great earthquake" that will happen on ________ at _____ hours when everyone was ___________.  Fill in the blanks!

Northridge disaster shattered Los Angeles 25 years ago
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Twenty-five years ago this week, a violent, pre-dawn earthquake shook Los Angeles from its sleep, and sunrise revealed widespread devastation, with dozens killed and $25 billion in damage.

A look back at the damage, deaths and developments in seismic safety since the disaster:

The quake
At 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, a hidden fault lurking under the city's San Fernando Valley neighborhoods unleashed a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that shattered buildings, broke water mains and ignited fires.

The so-called blind thrust fault — one with no surface features to reveal its presence — caused a block of earth to move upward. The ground shook horizontally and vertically for up to 10 seconds, most strongly in an area 30 miles in diameter around LA's Northridge neighborhood.

Deaths and injuries
The state said at least 57 people died in the earthquake, though a study issued the following year put the death toll at 72, including heart attacks. About 9,000 were injured.

The greatest concentration of deaths occurred at Northridge Meadows, a 163-unit apartment complex where 16 people were killed when it collapsed onto the parking area below, crushing first-floor apartments.

The catastrophe at Northridge Meadows revealed a particular seismic hazard due to so-called soft-story construction, in which a building's ground level has large open areas for purposes such as parking spots or shop windows.

The widespread damage to buildings, freeways and infrastructure made the Northridge quake the costliest U.S. disaster at the time.

According to the public-private partnership Earthquake Country Alliance, 82,000 residential and commercial units and 5,400 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed, nine parking structures were toppled, nine hospitals were evacuated due to structural or other problems, seven key freeway bridges collapsed, and hundreds more were damaged.

Since Northridge, there has been a push toward progress — sometimes frustratingly slow — on everything from making buildings safer to increasing society's overall ability to deal with seismic threats.

In 2015, Los Angeles enacted a mandatory retrofit ordinance aimed at preventing loss of life in major earthquakes at the city's most vulnerable buildings. It covered about 13,500 "soft-story" buildings like Northridge Meadows and some 1,500 buildings with "non-ductile reinforced concrete" construction.

The ordinance, however, allowed a process spanning seven years for retrofitting of soft-story buildings and 25 years for non-ductile reinforced concrete buildings.

Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey announced its fledgling West Coast earthquake early warning system was ready for broad use by businesses, utilities, transportation systems and schools after years of development and testing of prototypes.

John Antczak, Associated Press