Tag Archives: Berkeley earthquakes


M3.5 earthquake hits Berkeley, East Bay

Source: USGS
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A magnitude-3.5 earthquake startled Berkeley and other East Bay residents early Tuesday morning.

Its epicenter was near the Warren Freeway, State Route 13, near Joaquin Miller Road, the USGS reports.

The earthquake was recorded at 12:50 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Service, with a depth of 2.98 miles.

A number of reports came in on Twitter from those who felt the quake in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley launches first ‘Resilience Strategy’ in Bay Area

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Never one to shirk a challenge, the city of Berkeley has come up with an ambitious plan designed to take on everything from racial and social inequity to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

And, no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Friday, the city released its “Resilience Strategy,” a 56-page document that attempts to look at “some of Berkeley’s most pressing physical, social and economic challenges, including earthquakes, wildfire, the impacts of climate change and racial inequity.”

The effort is the culmination to date of work Berkeley is doing as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities network,” or 100RC for short. The city was among the first 33 places in the world — along with San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — chosen to participate in the network back in 2013. (Alameda later lost the grant.) More than 1,000 cities have applied to take part.

Leading the charge in Berkeley is Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs, who was already working for the city with its Climate Action Plan efforts when he was selected for the gig.

A community event led by Mayor Tom Bates, along with Burroughs, is scheduled to take place Friday from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the launch. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.) … Continue reading »

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What am I supposed to do after an earthquake?

Berkeley residents Linda Worthman, Azimat Schulz, Susan Brooks, and Margaret Goyette at a Berkeley disaster preparedness training. Photo: Eli  Wirtschafter
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By Eli Wirtschafter / KALW 

We all know we’re supposed to prepare for earthquakes, but how many of us really have a plan?

I was aware that after a catastrophic earthquake, I shouldn’t count on first responders and the fire department. They’re going to be overwhelmed, maybe for days. Still, I didn’t have any kind of plan for the inevitable — until recently, when I moved to a new neighborhood in Berkeley.

Read more about disaster preparedness in Berkeley.

On a sunny afternoon shortly after relocating, I see a troop of my neighbors doing an emergency drill. They have clipboards, hard hats and bright yellow vests. They seem to know what they are doing. I’ve lived in several different neighborhoods in the East Bay, and I’ve never seen a block so well prepared.

The drill is taking place three doors down from me. I find out that after a serious earthquake, my neighbors and I are supposed to gather there to do triage. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley needs to spend money to upgrade earthquake shelters

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.08.44 AM
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On the evening of Jan. 19, Timothy Burroughs, Berkeley’s chief resilience officer, delivered a presentation to city council on the seismic upgrade needs of the City’s seven “city care and shelter sites”.

City care and shelter sites are sites that provide “regular day-to-day services but also serve as a care and shelter service in times of catastrophic loss to the city” such as an earthquake.

According to Mr. Burroughs — none of the existing city’s shelters would be able to serve their function in the event of a major earthquake — without “significant and costly repairs.”

He went on to say that recent seismic evaluations by structural engineers had concluded that all of the seven sites are at “high risk from earthquake damage.” … Continue reading »

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Lasher’s Electronics may be forced to close after 56 years

Ellen and Bob Lasher's electronics store was deemed seismically unsafe in 1991. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Al Lasher’s Electronics may be on the brink of closing after 56 years at 1734 University Ave.

The city of Berkeley deemed the building, near McGee Avenue, seismically unsafe in 1991, requiring the owners to retrofit the property by 1997. Lasher’s was one of 587 buildings to receive this mandate under the city’s seismic hazard mitigation program for unreinforced masonry buildings. Twenty-five years later, it is one of eight that remain on the list.

The city issued the owners, siblings Bob and Ellen Lasher, numerous notices and citations over the years. A final 2015 notice, which the Lashers appealed, warned the shop owners of the city’s intent to put a lien of $3,125 — the amount of recent outstanding citations — on the property. At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to halt fees and defer filing the lien, giving the owners 90 days to apply for a building permit for the retrofit and one year to pull the permit.

The Lashers say they are unsure they can afford to retrofit and stay open. They have received bids to do the retrofitting work ranging from $150,000-$300,000, Bob Lasher said. The retrofit would also require Lasher’s to close for at least two months, which would be a blow to business, he added. … Continue reading »

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Magnitude-4.0 Piedmont earthquake wakes up Berkeley

Quake map
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An earthquake in neighboring Oakland jolted Berkeley awake just before 6:50 a.m. Monday.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) initially registered the quake as a magnitude 4.2, but soon downgraded it to a magnitude 4.0. Its epicenter was two-thirds of a mile north of Piedmont (3.2 miles southeast of Berkeley). It struck at 6:49 a.m.

BART held trains while it undertook a system-wide check. It estimated it would be a 10-minute delay at 7:14 a.m. At 7:26 a.m. BART tweeted: “No damage found to tracks or yards following small quake. All trains held for inspection and moving again.”

At 7:13 a.m. the CHP tweeted that no damage had been reported on any Bay Area freeways. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley residents feel 4.0M earthquake, aftershocks

The USGS reported an earthquake in Fremont early Tuesday morning. Image: USGS
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Numerous Berkeley residents woke up just after 2:40 a.m. Tuesday due to a 4.0-magnitude earthquake reported north of Fremont.

At least eight aftershocks had been reported, following the original incident, as of 3:20 a.m.

According to the U.S. Geological Service, a 4.0-magnitude quake was reported at 2:41 a.m. 2 miles north of Fremont, about 30 miles from Berkeley.

On Twitter, local residents reported feeling the quake.

“Very slight swaying on fourth floor downtown Berkeley,” wrote one.

Many others said they felt it, too. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley, Albany disaster prep day comes Oct. 18

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley’s annual disaster preparedness event is coming up next month with activities to teach residents how to handle kids and pets in an emergency, as well as general skills.

The 2014 event is scheduled for Oct. 18, from 9-11 a.m. It can be customized for any schedule, with exercises that take anywhere from 5 minutes to the whole two hours. It’s a self-directed exercise, which means you can perform the activities in your home or business, or with an organized neighborhood group. … Continue reading »

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Cal prof Joshua Bloom makes earthquake alert kit for $110

Joshua Bloom's homemade earthquake early warning alarm, in a Gregoire box. Photo: Joshua Bloom
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When the Napa earthquake struck on Aug. 24, Joshua Bloom had a 5-second warning.

That’s because the UC Berkeley astronomy professor likes to tinker.

It was when Bloom was a beta tester in the prototype ShakeAlert system being developed by a consortium of seismological researchers (including UC Berkeley), that he came up with an idea.

“I thought it was silly that every time I closed my laptop, I couldn’t get a warning,” he said.

So Bloom cobbled together his own earthquake alarm for just over $100, using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer ($36.39), a wired speaker ($14.99), a mini-WiFi adapter ($6.71), and SD card.

To house it, he uses a box from Grégoire, the local restaurant group known for its crispy potato puffs. And he keeps the device in the living room of his North Berkeley home, next to the fireplace.

ShakeAlert triggered a 10-second early warning alert for the Magnitude 6 Napa quake last month. Bloom’s device provided a five-second warning. (Bloom details how it worked on his blog.)

Meet Joshua Bloom at Uncharted on Oct. 24-25. Get your early-bird tickets now!

For Bloom, this is tinkering with a definite purpose. He sees his demonstration project as validation that Californians could have an earthquake alarm in every home for about the same price as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. And he hopes it adds pressure to the legislature to fund the $80 million it will take to roll out the ShakeAlert network beyond its few privileged early testers. … Continue reading »

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Sunday’s quake: UC Berkeley scientists gave 10-second warning; a wake-up call for emergency preparedness

Unbeknownst to some, the magnitude 6 Napa County earthquake that woke many people up in Berkeley at 3:20 a.m. on Sunday morning was “predicted” by scientists in our very city with a 10-second warning about the trembler.

The alert was issued by the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory’s ShakeAlert earthquake early-warning project. The demonstration warning system provided 10 seconds warning (as shown in the video above) at laboratories in Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. It preceded a quake that was the largest to hit the San Francisco Bay Area since the devastating 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake 25 years ago in 1989.

ShakeAlert is not a predictive tool — predicting quakes is still beyond the expertise of even the most eminent seismologists; rather it is being developed to act as an early-warning system to help minimize quake damage. For example, with even a little warning, BART trains could slow down to avoid derailment, utilities companies could shut off gas vales to prevent fires, elevators could be stopped and their doors opened at a floor, and surgeons could stop operating.  … Continue reading »

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Magnitude 6 earthquake rattles Berkeley in early hours

USGS shake map for the Aug. 24 American Canyon earthquake shows where it was felt most intensely.
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A magnitude 6 earthquake shook many people awake in Berkeley at 03:20:44 a.m. on Sunday Aug. 24.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the shaker was 4 miles north-west of  American Canyon, California, and registered a depth of 6.7 miles. American Canyon is north of Vallejo and about 28 miles north of Berkeley.

People took to Twitter almost immediately after the quake, which was felt around the Bay Area and lasted a significant time. It was described by one person as “a long roll.” … Continue reading »

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Are you ready to help kids, pets when disaster strikes?

The Berkeley Emergency Prep Fair is aimed to help residents know what to do with pets and little ones in case of a disaster. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A brand new interactive fair is coming to Berkeley this weekend, aimed to help residents get prepared for disaster with a focus on children and pets.

The free event, at the North Berkeley BART station, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. There will be food and music, kids’ activities, prizes and games, as well as first aid and CPR training, pet evacuation workshops, a blood drive and much more.

“It’s really geared toward the empowerment of individuals in our community,” said Gradiva Couzin, a Berkeley resident and CERT volunteer who has been helping organize the event. “Our goal is to help everyone recognize their own strengths, and what they can contribute and bring to disaster response.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley uses free dumpsters to boost disaster prep zeal

To increase community participation in disaster planning and public safety, neighborhoods that regularly collaborate in established city programs are eligible to reserve a dumpster like this with no fee. Photo: City of Berkeley
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The city of Berkeley has brought back its popular “free dumpster” program to turn a neighborhood desire for free garbage hauling into a passion for disaster preparedness activities.

To increase community participation in disaster planning and public safety, neighborhoods that regularly collaborate with the city’s emergency planning programs will be eligible to reserve a 16-cubic-yard dumpster without a fee. … Continue reading »

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