A cluster of small earthquakes rattled the Lake Tahoe region in quick succession Thursday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest registering magnitude 4.7.
The moderate temblor occurred at 9:35 p.m. Pacific time about 11 miles northwest of Truckee, the USGS’ Earthquake Hazards Program reported. It was preceded by a magnitude-3.2 quake nine minutes before in the same area of Sierra County, seismologists said. Aftershocks of 3.0 and 3.1 in the same area followed.
The trio of quakes, which were below the Little Truckee River not far from Henness Pass Road, were about 10 miles south of Sierraville and 15 miles southwest of Loyalton.
There were no reports of damage in the area around Truckee, according several law enforcement officials.
Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones on Twitter said the epicenter of the quake was near the location of a magnitude 5.9 quake in 1966 below Stampede Reservoir. That quake had toppled chimneys and snapped pipelines in communities along the Interstate 80 corridor east of Truckee, and created cracks in several earthen dams in the vicinity.
— Andy Moffitt (@weatherprophet) May 7, 2021
The M4.7 north of Truckee is near the location of a M6 quake in 1966. Same strike-slip focal mechanism. And both events had M3 foreshocks. https://t.co/i2OJT9IPmd
— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) May 7, 2021
The series brought total to 12 of quakes registering above magnitude 2.5 in the Tahoe region in less than two weeks. All of the events prior to tonight’s temblors occurred in the middle of Lake Tahoe, about 5 miles from the shore at Dollar Point.
Instead, Thursday’s quakes erupted 35 miles away near Independence Lake, a remote Sierra Nevada preserve area that straddles the Sierra-Nevada county line.
Brendan McCormack — the owner of The Valley House, a suite of vacation rentals in Sierraville — missed out on the quake as he was driving home. But, he said, he heard about it as soon as he arrived.
“My family felt it, my daughter and my wife told me they felt a strong earthquake,” he said.
He said in a quick assessment that nothing had been broken from the shaking and it had been a while since they had felt an earthquake, but “we have a pretty old house ... so it shook pretty good.”
Users on social media described what they felt.
“I’ve felt a few earthquakes but have never been fully alert for one,” said Jessica Padilla in a Twitter post. “The house was being shook by a giant and I felt like I was on a mini roller coaster with speed bumps. Would not recommend.”
“All’s well in Truckee earthquake-wise, except a very worried dog,” said Ruth Miller, another Truckee resident posting to Twitter.
“It went on for a good while ... maybe five seconds,” said Joel Lovelace, who felt the largest quake before heading to his shift at a convenience store in Truckee. He said a few customers had come into the store to chat about the quake, but “it was no big deal.”
Residents of Sacramento, roughly 80 miles southwest of the epicenter, also felt shaking and some “Did You Feel It” users in the Bay Area reported feeling the quake. In all, but 10:30 p.m., more than 5,000 responses were recorded, with most describing the shaking as light.
According to the USGS, a ShakeAlert was transmitted at 9:35 p.m. indicating a possible 6.0 quake. Users in Sacramento, Chico and San Francisco received the warning.
Users across California can sign up for the app and learn more about earthquake safety at earthquake.ca.gov.
The Bee’s Daniel Hunt and Noel Harris contributed to this story.