A Quick Opinion
Because I Say So

Front Page
Guest Columnist
Historic Winters
Letters Welcome
Here, There & Everywhere

The Buckhorn

Copyright (c) 2010
Winters Express
312 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694
(530) 795-4551
Web site by


Winters was all shook up

Local residents awakened by earthquake on
festival weekend

Express editor
The irony was lost on no one that Winters began last weekend with its annual Earthquake Street Festival, and ended it with shock waves from an earthquake in the American Canyon area early Sunday morning. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website, the 6.0 magnitude earthquake occurred on Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3:20 a.m. just west of the West Napa fault between the longer Rodgers Creek fault on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault to the east.
USGS notes that this was the largest earthquake to strike the Bay Area since the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Dubbed the South Napa earthquake, the shaking caused significant damage in south Napa County, with chunks of bricks falling from many historic buildings in downtown Napa.
Shock waves and trembles from the quake were reported throughout the Bay Area as far away as San Jose and north of Santa Rosa, to the coastline on the west and as far east as Woodland. The biggest impact was in the Napa area, however, and according to the USGS, damage was localized there due to the “rupture directivity to the north-west.” River valley sediments in Napa Valley likely contributed to the amplification of shaking around Napa.
More than 100 people were injured in the quake, but no one was killed. However, property damage to businesses, roads and homes was extensive, with many structures being “red tagged” and declared unfit for habitation and many roads and sidewalks showing cracks and buckles. With Napa Valley well-known as the heart of California’s wine industry, many wineries reported damage to their inventories, and according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the total cost of the earthquake just to Napa Valley wineries is expected to be in the millions of dollars.
Here in Winters, scores of people were jostled awake around 3:20, some reporting their beds swaying and others outright shaking. In-ground pools were heard sloshing, and hanging ceiling fans and lights swayed. So far, no damage or injuries were discovered in Winters, however, the city’s environmental services manager, Carol Scianna, said that an underground water leak on Grant Avenue between Third and Apricot streets may have been caused by the earthquake, but that is still a theory.
Scianna said the city is waiting for reports on nearby underground cable and gas lines, as well as permission from Caltrans, before digging the area up to make repairs. Eastbound drivers can expect a temporary detour in that area while repairs are being made.
Owners of downtown historic buildings, including Charles Wallace and John Pickerel, stated that they did not discover any damage to their buildings, nor did First Northern Bank Vice President Jessica Kilkenny. Kilkenny said no one found any damage at the bank building, although, she said with a chuckle that she imagines the huge overhead chandeliers inside the bank were swinging. Corinne Martinez of Berryessa Gap Winery and RootStock also reported that there was no damage to any of their downtown buildings, nor was there damage to the winery or Berryessa Brewing Co. out on Highway 128.
Although aftershocks are still continuing, Winters residents did not report feeling them. According to Justin Pressfield, chief of communications for the USGS, the largest aftershock of 4.6 magnitude occurred five minutes after the initial quake, and another sizeable one of 3.9 magnitude occurred around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26. As of Tuesday morning, more than 80 aftershocks were recorded. Pressfield said that the USGS anticipates that the aftershocks will subside, as they are already occurring less frequently.
According to the website, the USGS and California Geological Survey (CGS) geologists mapped surface rupture produced by the earthquake from the epicenter, and are conducting field studies on the ruptures, as well as looking for additional surface ruptures. The surface ruptures show a northward shift west of the West Napa fault of about two inches, as well as a shift of the earth by a few inches.
With all this shaking going on, Winters residents began raising concerns about the integrity of Monticello Dam, particularly after a local news station claimed that the possibility that the quake on the West Napa fault put pressure on the Berryessa Fault that runs under the dam, and “has geologists worried,” specifically an earthquake expert at UC Davis. However, Pressfield said that the USGS had not issued any such statement or concern.
Steve Geissinger, press spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Monticello Dam, also said that the Bureau did not issue any such report. Immediately after the earthquake, the dam was inspected and there was no damage found or reported to the Bureau’s dam safety office.
The Express is planning a more thorough story on the integrity of the Monticello Dam, but for the time being, Winters residents can turn their energy away from concerns about the dam and toward offering support and assistance to earthquake victims over the hill. Thus far, the only earthquake related loss reported in Winters came from Angela Terry, who lost some shampoo when the bottle tipped over during the earthquake.