Earthquake swarm jolts the Valley

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake on the south end of the Salton Sea was the largest of multiple earthquakes that shook the area Saturday. PHOTO US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

CALIPATRIA – The U.S. Geological Survey registered a 5.3 magnitude earthquake at 10:56 a.m. Saturday about 7 miles west of here.

The quake was the largest of a series of tremors that appear to have started as early as 5:19 a.m., when a 2.7 tremor was registered in the area. One reporting party said items could heard falling from shelves at the Walmart in Brawley.

“It felt stronger than a 5.3,” one reader said on this newspaper’s Facebook page. “In that moment, it felt like a 6.0 (cause I was closer to the epicenter, I felt it here in Calipatria).It was a powerful earthquake. That earthquake was so scary. I felt like I was in the movie twister, when the big one hits, and we all hold on. I thought everything was coming down, but it passed, and we survived.”

According to USGS, the 5.3 quake was the largest, so far, of an ongoing swarm of earthquakes at the southern end of the Salton Sea. As of 7:30 p.m., USGS said there had been 17 quakes of magnitude 3 or higher in the sequence, which are strong enough to be felt, and that the swarm appeared to be dying down. However, at 8:08 p.m., the service registered another 3.6 tremor in the area.

“Sometimes swarms have multiple bursts of earthquakes,” USGS said on its website. “If this swarm becomes more active, we will re-evaluate the forecast and the probabilities of future earthquakes could increase.”

Per Imperial County Public Information Officer Gil Rebollar, the Imperial County Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services was currently monitoring and assessing recent earthquake activity in the region. He said there has not been any report of damages, and crews are conducting damage assessments.

“As always, have a plan with your family to be ready if the need arises,” he said.

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