The Nevada Seismological Laboratory recorded the earthquake at 5:51 p.m. Monday just north of Calle de la Plata between El Caballo Trail and Camino de Grato in Spanish Springs and it sent shocks as far as west as the Sierra Foothills in California and as far east as Fallon. The quake penetrated 8.6 miles below the surface. and a series of small aftershocks between M1.4 and 1.7 occurred following the 5:51 p.m. earthquake.
Ken Smith, associate director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, said there have been several small swarms of earthquakes in the area north of Reno during 2013. The Magnitude 4.2 Spanish Springs earthquake occurred in the same area as a small swarm of earthquakes that took place in October 2012.
“Activity began again in this same location on Aug. 21 leading to today’s felt event,” Smith said. “This earthquake has been followed by several aftershocks, which is typical of earthquakes of this size in the northern Nevada region.”
While the Spanish Springs area has been a target of many earthquakes, large and small, long-time residents said they do not recall feeling many of them. One resident who has felt about three previous earthquakes in Spanish Springs was Dick Flora, an 18-year Spanish Springs resident. Flora said he did not feel Monday’s earthquake but was quickly made aware of its occurrence by his wife.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel it,” Flora said. “I was out mowing the lawn, and I have a riding lawnmower, and I had no idea it happened. My wife came running out saying we just had an earthquake and I said ‘You’re kidding me.’”
Inside Flora’s home, his wife, Linda, felt the shudder of the house and was befuddled as to what was happening, and by the time the quake ended she realized it was an earthquake.
Kelly Bidart, a Spanish Springs resident of 30 years, said she had a much different experience.
“Oddly enough I was brushing my teeth when I heard some glass shatter and I yelled ‘what’s going on?’” Bidart said. “I felt the ground start to move and honest to God it felt like a vehicle or truck hit the side of the house. That’s exactly how it felt.”
Upon securing her 8-year-old son, Bidart went to inspect the damage in her home where she found a glass candle holder and a single picture frame had hit the floor during the earthquake. She said it was the first earthquake she had felt in her Spanish Springs residence and said it has prompted her to take some steps to prepare for the future.
“I volunteer with the (Washoe County) Sheriff’s Office and I am going to be getting some disaster kits put together for our home,” Bidart said. “We have one in the car right now but I think it is time to have one in the house as well. It truly did scare me. I think it is important to be ready for these situations should they get any worse.”
Bidart said the outer structure of her home, including her driveway, was unscathed by the quake.
Spanish Springs homeowner Doug Woytek said his home was safe as well and he added that his experience was largely uneventful.
“I was watching the news when it happened,” Woytek said, “And it just felt like a big, loud plane was getting ready to fly over us. There was a thud impact at one point and it lasted about five to eight seconds and then it was over.
“I sat watching the ceiling fan shake and the lights inside that shook a little, but it was over so quickly that there was not too much to react to.”
Smith said it is difficult to tell if this earthquake could be a prelude to a larger event, but said prior preparation will help residents in any instance of another quake.
“It’s always a possibility, yet just as unlikely, that this event may be a foreshock to a larger event that may occur near the same location,” Smith said. “Citizens in the north Reno area should remain on alert for additional ground shaking. How this series of earthquakes will evolve cannot be predicted or forecast.”