So, by now, everyone knows we just had an earthquake here in So Cal. 5.8 and epicentered in Chino Hills which is about 32 mile northeast of where I work. We felt it pretty strongly here and most of us dove under our desks just in case, but fortunately, no damage occurred to either people or buildings.
Having lived in So Cal since 1970, I've been through a number of quakes including the Sylmar, Whittier-Narrows and Northridge quakes. I'd say this one ranks below all of them on the strength and "scariness" scale as far as how it felt to experience it. It did seem to be one of the longer ones and had a gentle, rolling sensation to it. I know, I know, how can I describe and earthquake as "gentle?" Some of them start out with really harsh initial jerk or "whump!" and then shake violently. Others feel more like you're on a boat going over some waves - slow up and down motion.
This one didn't shake too hard - which is good. When they go on for a long time like that, though, you do start to get scared and think "okay, time for this to be over now."
Northridge was the worst because it had the big initial "whump!", the really violent and quick shaking AND seemed to go on forever. I knew immediately that it had to be a really, really bad one and that I was lucky to be in the OC and therefore probably far from where it was centered. But it was bad enough even at almost 80 miles away. This is the only one that I ever felt significant aftershocks from, too, so we had several days of "scary."
Whittier was bad, but I think it was magnified for me because I experienced it while in my apartment which was on the top floor of an apartment building on rockers. This magnifies the shaking experience. Plus, this is the earthquake that I was closest to the epicenter of and I was home alone when it happened
Sylmar was probably worse than I remember it being, but I was only 5 or 6 years old when it happened. I do still remember my bed moving across the room into the middle of the floor, though. We had just moved to California and I had no idea what was happening.
There've been a few other minor ones along the way, but nothing really noticeable except one that was centered in Big Bear in around 1990 or 1991. I never really felt this one because it happened when I was underwater off Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach taking my scuba exam. I did always wonder, though, if it had been centered off the coast and had caused a tsunami, what would've happened to us divers...
I do always wonder after we have one of these things...what if it shook just enough to put more stress on another fault somewhere and we're going to get a bigger one in the near future? Just one more fun part of living in So Cal.
But hey, at least we don't get tornadoes and hurricanes ;-)