Earthquake Shocks California Residents During Tropical Storm Hilary

If having Tropical Storm Hilary bearing down on Los Angeles was not enough of a sign of the apocalypse, the area was treated to a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Sunday.

As up to ten inches of rain was falling and sending torrents of water flowing even through the desert region, the ground began to shake. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) timed the earthquake at 2:41 p.m. PT.

The epicenter was identified as four miles southeast of Ojai, roughly 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Several aftershocks up to a magnitude 4.0 were felt following the main event.

In striking footage, KABC was filming a live report on Tropical Storm Hilary when the earthquake rattled the area. What was already a dramatic video became much more so as announcers scrambled in confusion.

Southern California was dealing with its first tropical storm since 1939 — two years before Pearl Harbor. Security footage inside businesses showed items shaking off of shelves and people rushing to get outside, but no major damage was reported.

A notification went out to residents just before the earthquake hit from the USGS Shake Alert system. “Earthquake detected! Drop, cover, hold on. Protect yourself.”

As the earthquake struck, Hilary was centered less than 100 miles from San Diego. Torrential rains were falling and many streets were flooded as residents were warned of life-threatening water levels.

Perhaps California residents could be excused if they felt like it was the end of the world. During and after Sunday’s earthquake came record-breaking downpours and the accompanying threat of landslides and mudslides across the state.

Up to 17 million residents faced flood and high-wind advisories, watches and warnings as the storm moved up the West Coast. Particularly hard hit was Palm Springs, where videos posted online revealed flooded streets filled with debris.

Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner told CNN the city’s 911 system was knocked offline by the rain and winds. “Right now we have flooding on all of our roads. There’s no way in or out of Palm Springs, and that’s the case for the majority of the Coachella Valley. We’re all stuck.”

Hilary was downgraded to a post-tropical storm cyclone overnight heading into Monday. Desert areas could record as much as 10 inches of rainfall, equal to the normal amount seen in a year.