Much of the West got a startling reminder a couple weeks ago that earthquakes aren’t simply a coastal California problem. The twin earthquakes that rocked Ridgecrest, California, also sent shockwaves across Arizona and Nevada, and that meant residents of Lake Havasu City got to shake, rattle and roll along with millions of other people.
Luckily, the earthquakes, while larger in scale than anything the U.S. has seen in decades, caused minimal destruction. However, earthquakes are a fact of life for Californians, and scientists say the so-called “Big One” looms large. The San Andreas fault hasn’t had a major shift in about three centuries, which means the greater region is long past due for a big earthquake.
Lake Havasu City, which straddles the California border, doesn’t experience earthquakes that often, so the July 4 and 5 events were something of a novelty here – even though most Havasu residents are former California residents who have vivid memories of past earthquake experiences. However, Havasu residents shouldn’t get complacent when it comes to earthquakes – Arizona may be far from the San Andreas fault, but the Grand Canyon State is still solidly in earthquake territory.
Arizona gets a dozen or so earthquakes ever year according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but it’s had a couple of years where shaking has spiked – there were about 31 events in 2014, and in a three-month period in 2016, more than 60 earthquakes were reported in the Arizona Strip area of Mohave County. Additionally, the city of Yuma has been identified as a “high risk area” for earthquakes because it’s located where several fault lines converge. In 1978, a rupture along the Imperial fault caused a 6.4-magnitude quake in the area – just a little smaller than the quakes that hit Ridgecrest.
So what to do? There’s simply not much we can do, except ensure that we’re aware of what to do if and when an earthquake occurs.
The important thing is that every small earthquake serves as a reminder that there are some common-sense things you can do to minimize the dangers. Inspect your home for vulnerabilities, such as large bookcases and water heaters that could fall and cause injury or damage during a large earthquake. Be sure you have an exit plan, and make sure your important documents are readily accessible in case a quick exit is necessary. This kind of common-sense preparedness can ensure you’re ready should any disaster strike.
There are risks to living anywhere, and earthquakes are certainly among those factors for Havasu. But kind of like the snakes that surely swim in the waters of Lake Havasu, they’re probably not something we’ll have to worry about all that often.
— Today’s News-Herald