Related topics

Sharp Quake Jolts San Francisco Bay Area

August 8, 1989

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A sharp earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay area for 10 seconds early today, breaking glass, causing rock slides and apparently prompting a man to jump to his death from a fifth-story window, authorities said.

The quake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, occurred at 1:13 a.m. and was centered on the San Andreas Fault about 13 miles south of San Jose, said the U.S. Geological Survey. It was felt as far as San Luis Obispo, 230 miles south of here.

No major damage was reported.

The quake struck as state and federal emergency officials were about to begin a two-day test of earthquake communications procedures. The drill involved a mock earthquake in the Bay area in which 5,000 people die.

″It felt like I was having my bed rolled around on a skateboard. I woke up and I was moving,″ said Henry J. Peterson of Santa Clara, next to San Jose.

Two aftershocks measuring 4.2 and 4.5 rippled through the area later this morning. State officials warned there could be more quakes in northern California in the next five days, with a quake up to 6.2 possible but not likely.

In Los Gatos, 50 miles south of San Francisco, a 19-year-old man was apparently startled awake by the earthquake and jumped out of his bedroom window, police dispatcher Lisa Douglas said in a statement.

The shaking sent rocks tumbling onto highways, said a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department emergency dispatcher who declined to give her name. ″They cleared the debris by hand and all roads are now cleared,″ she said.

″There was some damage in the Santa Cruz Mountains,″ said San Jose police Officer Jay Forbes. ″It was mainly broken windows and mirrors. Nothing serious.″

The false ceiling in a vacant Los Gatos business came down, and half a dozen businesses reported broken windows, police said.

″I felt a little rumble and then all the windows started shaking real bad,″ said Chris Soliday, a clerk at an all-night convenience store in Sunnyvale. ″Some stuff in the aisles fell down. There’s broken glass, dented cans, some beer bottles broken.″

The epicenter was in almost exactly the same place as a 5.0 quake on June 27, 1988, said USGS geophysicist Dave Oppenheimer.

Residents shaken awake by the temblor described it as jolting and rolling.

″It was the strongest I’ve ever felt,″ said Bernie Beck, 38, who lives in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.

″I live in an old building that was built after the 1906 quake, and it really had me going,″ Beck said. ″It felt like you were sitting on a saw horse, rocking back and forth.″

San Francisco’s Great Quake, which occurred in 1906 before the Richter scale was devised, has been estimated at 8.3. Recent estimates say more than 2,000 people died in the quake and the fire it touched off, which burned much of the city.

The open-ended Richter scale is a measure of the energy released by an earthquake, as measured by ground motion recorded on a seisomograph.

Each increase of one number, as in a jump from magnitude 5.5 to 6.5, means that the ground motion is 10 times greater. A quake of 3.5 can cause slight damage in populated areas, while a quake of 6.0 can cause severe damage. In March 1964 an earthquake in Alaska hit 8.5 on the Richter scale, killing 114 people.

Update hourly