For those who don’t get to experience earthquakes, here is how it works:
You are sitting at your desk at the office when it feels like your chair has slid back a little bit. A slightly drunken sensation begins, an oscillation of the floor much like being on a ship in waves large enough to rock it. This is when it dawns on you that an earthquake is occurring. Everything seems a little wrong, disturbing, yet not entirely unpleasant. The ground is rolling, but you know the ground is not supposed to do that, so your brain fights the sensation. You get a little dizzy, again like being slightly drunk. If it’s still going on at this point (just a few seconds into it) then you are amazed that it’s still happening. It’s actually hard to tell when it stops, as now your head is spinning a bit and confounding the sensation. You contact loved ones to make sure its not worse where they are and that they are fine. Immediately someone looks up the USGS (which many people out here have bookmarked) website to see how big and where it was. The one that just shook us up, leaving me still a bit dazed and wobbly, was a 5.8 out in Chino. So there you go.
If one happens right under your feet, or is bigger, or both – then the sensation is bound to be quite a bit more violent. I have yet to feel one of those, and am just fine skipping that particular experience altogether.
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Jeremy is reporting from Santa Monica. I am in downtown LA, which is 27 miles west of the quake’s epicenter (about 20 miles closer than Santa Monica is). It felt big, rumbley, and shaky. The lights hanging from our ceiling swayed back and forth. A few small items on our shelves fell over. It seemed to begin with a slight wobble, then got very intense and trailed off by the end. I guess it has since been downgraded to 5.4. When it hit I was on the phone with someone in Claremont, much closer to Chino Hills. I should see how she’s doing.