Series of Thanksgiving shocks shake Napa area

Families celebrating their holiday in Napa County may have felt a little shaking this Thanksgiving, the result of a pair of small earthquakes around the city of Yountville.

The first, a 2.5-magnitude quake, hit at 10:27 a.m., less than 3 miles south of the city. The second quake was slightly larger, registering a magnitude of 3.1 at 12:36 p.m., about 4 miles south-southwest of Yountville. No injuries or damages were reported, said Sgt. Doug Wilkinson of the Napa County Sheriff’s Department’s Yountville station.

The quakes were likely aftershocks from the 6.0 earthquake that shook Napa three months ago, and similar small quakes are to be expected in such a seismically active area, said John Bellini, geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. The August event caused widespread damage in the city of Napa and the surrounding area, injuring hundreds and killing one person. Reports have estimated the overall quake damage at more than $400 million, much of it to the wine industry.

On Thursday, the USGS received 17 reports of shocks felt during the minor quakes, Bellini said. Quakes of magnitudes in the 2.0 to 3.0 range are the smallest that can be felt by people, and quakes below 4.0 typically do not cause damage.

Since the major quake on Aug. 24, Napa residents and visitors are paying more attention even to the minor rumbles, Wilkinson said.

“There’s always that wonder – is it an aftershock or a foreshock?” he said. “People are more on edge when they happen, but people around here are used to it.”

Chrissy Pearce, general manager at Fume Bistro & Bar in Napa, said she was behind the bar when she and a few staff members felt a shake and heard glasses rattling. It was startling, but the restaurant continued with its busy Thanksgiving service, she said. The bistro sustained about $30,000 worth of damage three months ago.

“For most people, it scares them a little more, just because of what happened,” she said. “We would not like to have another one of those.”

Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.