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The 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake left Californians stranded in elevators

Friday, October 1st 2021, 6:35 am - On this day in weather history, an earthquake hit Southern California.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Thursday, Oct. 1, 1987, at 7:42 a.m., a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit Southern California.

The main shock occurred around three kilometres north of the Whittier Narrows, measuring 14 km-deep. According to Mercalli Intensity values, Whittier felt VIII (severe)-levels effects of the earthquake. The event is dubbed the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake.

Courtesy Whittier Museum Courtesy of Whittier Museum.

The majority of the Los Angeles metropolitan area felt the quake with the Mercalli Intensity values of VI (strong) and VII (very strong).

The earthquake was the strongest shock felt in Los Angeles since the 1971 San Fernando quake. The event temporarily damaged local media and communication outlets. The quake also took out power, leaving people stranded in elevators.

Courtesy City of Whittier Courtesy of City of Whittier.

The quake also took out several water and gas lines, broke windows, and collapsed ceilings.

Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center took in those who were injured as a result of the earthquake. In total, the event caused eights deaths and 200 injuries.

wi Courtesy of City of Whittier.

Across Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties, over 1,500 homes were destroyed, and an additional 2,500 were damaged.

The quake also caused over 1,000 gas leaks, many leading to fires.

After the event, the city of Whittier opened a 521-acre earthquake recovery redevelopment area to raise recovery funds.

To learn more about the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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