Bit of a Jolt
So, we just had what SFGate is calling a "moderate earthquake":
A moderate earthquake occurred at 8:04:54 PM (PDT) on Tuesday, October 30, 2007.
The magnitude 5.6 event occurred 8 km (5 miles) NNE of Alum Rock, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 9 km ( 6 miles).
Felt like it lasted a LONG time, as far as quakes go, maybe twenty-plus seconds. That's eons. Never was as strong as, of course, 1989, but probably felt really strong closer to the epicenter. Hopefully there's no damage; we appear to have suffered nothing except for a book stacked lazily on a bookshelf falling to the ground.
Update: Apparently, I experienced a Level IV intensity, described here as:
Hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of heavy trucks; or sensation of a jolt like a heavy ball striking the walls. Standing motor cars rock. Windows, dishes, doors rattle. Glasses clink. Crockery clashes. In the upper range of IV, wooden walls and frame creak.
Felt a bit stronger than that, but probably not as much as the next level up. I believe the Loma Prieta was a IX earthquake, detailed as such:
General panic. Masonry D destroyed; masonry C heavily damaged, sometimes with complete collapse; masonry B seriously damaged. (General damage to foundations.) Frame structures, if not bolted, shifted off foundations. Frames racked. Serious damage to reservoirs. Underground pipes broken. Conspicuous cracks in ground. In alluvial areas sand and mud ejected, earthquake fountains, sand craters.
The next level up is X, and suggests a more massive levelling, like the 1906 quake.
What's unnerving about all of this is that the scale goes UP two levels from there, with XII, the top dog, being:
Damage nearly total. Large rock masses displaced. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown into the air.
Just from a writers perspective, it sounds both awful and not very well described. Objects thrown in the air? If those objects are pebbles, that's one thing. If they are CARS, that's another. Here's to hoping we never have to figure out if it's descriptive enough.