Why Californians Need to Be Terrified of the Next Big Earthquake

If you live in California, you’ve likely heard at one point or another all the hubbub about the “big one” — the inevitable earthquake that’ll level major cities to the ground when we least suspect it. Those aren’t just ghost stories, and seismologists are updating their theories on the long-prognosticated big earthquake.

Long story short: it doesn’t look good.

A few months ago, scientists estimated a nearly two-thirds chance that an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater would strike the San Francisco Bay area in the next 30 years.

It gets worse. The chances of that quake being of a magnitude greater than 8.0 are on the rise the longer it’s delayed. The LA Times reports:

On Tuesday, the USGS adjusted its big-quake forecast, hiking its estimate on the chances of an 8.0 earthquake in California in the next 30 years from 4.7% to 7%…

Stated another way, the chance of an 8.0 or greater quake in California can be expected once every 494 years. The old forecast calculated a rate of one 8.0 or greater earthquake every 617 years.

Unfortunately, despite all the research into the likelihood of the big one, there’s still no way to properly predict when and where an earthquake will strike. All Californians can do it seems is read scary news articles on the internet and worry themselves to death, hopefully before they’re crushed underneath crumbling freeway overpasses.

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