Quake hits central coast of California

| 12/23/2003

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck the central coast of California, about halfway between the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas Monday, Dec. 22, according to press reports.

While officials described much of the damage as minor, some television photos showed at least one highway was torn asunder by the jolt.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol told Reuters news service no reports had come in of highway or bridge damage, but at least one motorist had reported a rock slide on a nearby highway.

The quake was not quite as powerful as some of the major quakes to shake the state in recent years. According to the Southern California Earthquake Center, the Northridge Quake of January 1994 was a 6.8 on the Richter scale. Both the quake Monday and the Northridge quake occurred on small faults near the San Andreas fault, the largest fault line that runs through the region.

The Associated Press reported that the quake Monday was followed by at least five aftershocks, one which reached 4.7 on the scale of earthquake intensity.

The epicenter of the quake was in Cambria, a town roughly 200 miles north of Los Angeles; it started about 11:15 a.m. Pacific time and lasted between 30 and 45 seconds, WXXA TV reported. That’s roughly 33 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and a short distance south of the famed San Simeon, the castle built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst that is now a museum and historic site.