Seismologists say California is in an earthquake drought

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California just got out of an epic drought, but seismologists say a new one is here.

They call it earthquake drought.

That's because it's been years since a major earthquake has happened in the state.

Berkeley florist Jean Lee is as ready as she can be for an earthquake. She wonders when the next big one could hit.

Seismologists are wondering, too.

Some believe California is in the midst of an earthquake drought.

It's been almost 5 years since the Napa Quake. That was the last shaker that was magnitude six or stronger. Experts know this so-called drought will end with destructive results.

Dr. Angela Chung says the UC Berkeley seismograph has been very quiet with little quake activity.

"Sometimes there is stress built up in the fault."

Experts say the Bay Area has been relatively quake free for the better part of a century.

Since the earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, there have been only three quakes magnitude six or higher, including Loma Prieta in 1989. But in the 1800s, there were 14 big quakes.

The Hayward fault, which runs through most of the East Bay, concerns Dr. Chung. One reason she helped develop an alert system which sends warnings to your cellphone. It was tested in Oakland last week.

"We can't predict earthquakes. What we can do is let you know when quake strikes, you're about to feel the shaking," Chung said.

Berkeley structural engineer Thor Matteson is seeing a six-month backlog of people wanting to seismically retrofit their houses. He says developed a new method of seismically upgrading homes and apartments, using metal braces.

"What we're looking to do is keep you in your house and out of tent city," said Matteson.

Experts urge everyone to be quake ready.
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