The next big earthquake for California has been on the radar constantly since the last one in 1906. Since then, we have heard predictions of new coastlines from Death Valley to Arizona just waiting for land speculators to snatch up the desert beach property. I don’t know about you, but with today’s little or no patience society, people are getting tired of hearing about it when nothing happens. While we’re waiting, let’s review.

Big Earthquake of 1906

This is the big one everyone has heard about. Long before the Internet, news about this one spread faster than the shockwaves. After this, the west coast had a reputation for earthquakes like the gulf coast has for hurricanes. On the morning of April 18, an estimated 7.8 on the Reichter scale woke everyone up to the ground rolling and shaking from Eureka in the north to Salinas in the south. Three thousand people died in the deadly quake and fires raged for days afterwards. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed.


While our country was declaring war on Britain, on the other side of the country this event was shaking foundations as well on December 8. The epicenter for this one was near San Juan Capistrano, the same place where the swallows used to return every year around March 19. Since the area was much more sparsely populated over 200 years ago, there was not as much damage or loss of life though it was very catastrophic to those living in the area at the time. The only damage known to have occurred was to the famous missions when San Gabriel’s bell tower collapsed and the Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano was completely leveled. Forty Native Americans died that morning when they were attending services at the Great Stone Church.


Now scientists aren’t predicting a big earthquake in California’s future. They are predicting two at the same time! What they are expecting to happen is something similar to what happened in 1812. Then, the earthquake started along the San Jacinto Fault and then jumped land over to the San Andreas fault. Experts say that it still probably felt like one earthquake but it traveled farther and caused more damage. If that happens today along the same path, there are much more residents compacted in the southern California landscape that it could lead to the largest loss of life in the country from an earthquake.


A scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory is now predicting a big earthquake happening in April of 2018. They even give a 99.9 percent probability of the earthquake happening. But, they also only give a 85 percent chance of the prediction being right. Huh? I guess that small percentage of being wrong means they can still be right? Kind of like betting against yourself on the stock market.

How bad?

Scientists are predicting that the next big earthquake for California will register a 7.8 magnitude. They are expecting injuries to be similar to 911 terrorist attacks. Property damage will rival Hurricane Katrina. Will it happen? We are warned that the percentages for the event are of when—not if —it will happen. Scientists are certain it will happen. They just don’t know when. Hard to plan a vacation, isn’t it?


Have you ever been in an earthquake?