On Sunday, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake shook Ventura County in Southern California as Tropical Storm Hilary intensified in the vicinity. The initial tremor struck the Ojai area at 2:41 p.m. Following that, a series of aftershocks struck Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, with the biggest measuring magnitude 3.0.
Seismologist Lucy Jones observed on the network that the Ojai region hasn’t seen an earthquake of 5 magnitude or higher since 1932.
Following the earthquake activity, several households in the impacted areas received emergency phone warnings that read, “Earthquake Detected! Drop, cover, and hang on. Take precautions.” The quake has so far caused no significant damage.
The tremor occurred as Tropical Storm Hilary hit Southern California, with forecasters warning that the worst of the storm is “yet to come.” As a result of the storm, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have declared states of emergency.
Meanwhile, California is prepared for its first tropical storm in 84 years, cancelling nearly 1,000 flights and calling off the ongoing actors’ strike due to the anticipated inclement weather.
Storm Hilary was once classified as a Category 4 hurricane, but it weakened as it reached the Mexican coast, from whence it was expected to make landfall in California and other southeastern states.
At least nine million people in southern California were under flood warnings due to “life-threatening” rain, mudslides, tornadoes, high winds, and power outages.
Up to 10 inches of rain were expected to fall from San Diego to Los Angeles, as sludge flowed into roadways, flooding overloaded drainage systems and tree branches toppled. The storm produced gusts of up to 65 miles per hour.
Authorities also said there was a 5% chance of tornadoes in southern California, the highest degree of risk since 2002.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency in southern California, ordering residents in some counties to evacuate, the Hill reported.
As residents stockpiled supplies, authorities ran out of sandbags and grocery shelves were empty. In preparation for the storm, Disneyland closed early, football events were rescheduled, and several beaches were shuttered.
Schools were also scheduled to close on Monday, delaying the start of the new school year.
On Sunday afternoon, airports in Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles cancelled about 1,000 flights, while two airlines, Southwest and Frontier, cancelled all flights to Ontario International Airport in southern California. Several other flights in California were also impacted.
Due to the storm, the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, cancelled their scheduled pickets on Monday.
In a dispute about wages and the influence of streaming and new technologies on the industry, Hollywood writers have been on strike since May, with the actors union joining them last month. The unions intend to picket again on Tuesday.
Other states, including Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho, are bracing for once-in-a-century rain as Storm Hilary advances east, with the Nevada governor announcing a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon.
Summer weather in California is uncommon; the average rainfall in Los Angeles in August is 0 inches.
According to Michael Brennan, director of the US National Hurricane Centre, certain places could receive more rain in hours than they do in a full year.
“You do not want to be out driving around, trying to cross flooded roads by vehicle or on foot,” he warned during a briefing from Miami.
“In the last ten years, rainfall flooding has been the leading cause of death in tropical storms and hurricanes in the United States, and you don’t want to become a statistic.”
The city is expected to receive three to five inches of rain, while nearby hills are expected to receive up to ten inches.
While preparations were underway, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Ojai, about 80 miles (130 km) northwest of Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of severe damage or injuries.
It comes as devastating flooding from Storm Hilary made landfall in Mexico’s Baja California state, killing one person. According to the Associated Press, deadly floodwaters have overwhelmed streets spanning the length of the Baja California peninsula.
When a vehicle was swept away in an overflowing creek in the village of Santa Rosalia, rescue workers saved four more individuals.
Floodwaters have risen as a result of the storm, destroying homes and cars.
The hurricane is the latest big weather calamity to slam the United States, as the Hawaiian island of Maui continues to recover from a wildfire that killed over 100 people and devastated the ancient town of Lahaina last week.
The last tropical storm to impact California was in September 1939, when it capsized boats and ripped houses from their foundations, killing nearly 100 people.