A moderately strong earthquake struck the Los Angeles area late Friday night, rattling nerves already frayed by wildfires and smoke across Southern California. Hitting at 11:38 p.m., the quake registered a magnitude of 4.5 and was centered in the San Gabriel Valley near South El Monte, about 13 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
No serious damage or injuries were reported, though the quake was strong enough to shake pictures off walls and tip over objects in some homes. Residents of the Los Angeles area reacted to the quake with the usual mix of anxiety and humor, and wondered about potential aftershocks. Two small aftershocks hit around 1 a.m., with magnitudes 2.2 and 2.3.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted that her grandma called it “a nice little jolt.”
First thing I did after the earthquake is call my Gramma to check in. I asked: “Gram, you okay?” She starts laughing and says: “That was a good one! A nice little jolt.” She was born in South LA in 1932. That earthquake didn’t even solicit a full shrug from this lady. #angeleno
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 19, 2020
An earthquake. Really?!
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 19, 2020
The epicenter was close to the location of the 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake of 1987, which caused three deaths and significant damage. The Whittier quake was on the Puente Hills fault, which runs under downtown Los Angeles, and according to the Los Angeles Times, a major quake on that fault could be more deadly than one on the San Andreas fault.
One of the last significant earthquakes near Los Angeles was a 5.1 magnitude temblor in 2014, also on the Puente Hills fault, which caused some damage surrounding the La Habra area. The July 4 and 5 Ridgecrest quakes registered a much larger 6.4 and 7.1 magnitudes, respectively, but were not felt as strongly since Ridgecrest is some 150 north of the city in the high desert.