Malibu earthquake rattles Southern California

Malibu earthquake
(Sean Greene / Los Angeles Times)

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake struck near Malibu on Friday and was felt across a wide swath of Southern California.

The temblor was reported at 1:47 p.m., with an epicenter about two and a half miles northeast of Leo Carrillo State Beach and about three miles northwest of El Matador State Beach. It was followed by several aftershocks. Earlier estimates listed a magnitude of 4.7 and 4.5.

There were no immediate reports of major damage. One caller in Malibu told KNX-AM there was shaking strong enough to toss items off a counter and cause a wall to crack.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said on X that the Fire Department was conducting routine surveys of the city to assess for damage, and that city teams will continue to monitor.

Dakota Rose Koep was driving when the earthquake struck. She said she didn’t feel it at the time, but when she arrived at her Simi Valley home a short time later, her grandfather said “it was super weird because he could feel it, but the chain on the door wasn’t moving like it usually would.” He described it as “a very stereotypical rolling sensation, kind of shaky,” she said.

Meanwhile, Koep’s dog, a Great Dane-greyhound-lab mix named Nasa, “was freaked out.” But nothing seemed to have been damaged or fallen off the walls or shelves, the 25-year-old actor and writer said.

“Some of the photos on the wall in our house were kind of slanted, but nothing really shifted here,” she said.

The earthquake produced light to weak shaking across wide swaths of Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties. For most people, the shaking level was just powerful enough to rattle dishes and windows, according to the U.S. Geological Survey; for others, it might have swung hanging objects.

In a Van Nuys courtroom, the floor began to roll as defense attorney Tony Buzbee questioned a witness in the murder trial of Rebecca Grossman. The swaying left Buzbee speechless. The lawyer, a Texan who served in the U.S. Marines in California, told the court he was an "earthquake virgin."

Read more: Unshaken

Some residents said they received a few seconds of warning from the USGS earthquake early warning system. One person in Brentwood got a warning a second or two from the MyShake app on an iPhone before feeling actual shaking; another person in Koreatown got three or four seconds of warning on his Android cellphone before he felt rolling.

The temblor in Malibu prompted customers at Colony House Liquor and other nearby businesses along Pacific Coast Highway to run outside into the parking lot, said Max Alperstein, manager of the liquor store.

"That one gave a nice shake, going back and forth," Alperstein said Friday. "It was quite a bit of shaking. Inside, none of the bottles fell over or anything like that. Nothing broke, thankfully."

Alperstein said he has felt other quakes while working at the store, located down the street from Nobu. "Nothing quite as strong as that one."

"It wasn't a rolling, more of a good shaking, back and forth, left to right — a swaying," he said.

Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring told Spectrum News he was home when the quake hit and felt only a brief shaking. He said it was a reminder for Southern Californians, who have seen more than their share of natural disasters, to be prepared.

"We've had wildfires, earthquakes and floods," Uhring said. "I'm just waiting for the locusts to show up."

Read more: 'Abject terror gripped me': Terrifying memories of the Sylmar earthquake of 1971

Friday is the 53rd anniversary of the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that struck Sylmar in 1971.

There have been four earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and greater in Southern California this year.

The first came on New Year's Day when a magnitude 4.1 struck off the coast about 10 miles southwest of San Pedro and 11 miles southeast of Rancho Palos Verdes.

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake on Jan. 5 struck a mile northwest of the community of Lytle Creek in the San Gabriel Mountains of San Bernardino County. Then, on Jan. 24, a magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit in San Bernardino.

Jordan Lyubenov, 34, was at home in Playa Vista when the quake hit. He and his wife had just returned from Colorado.

“We were joking earlier that we would take sunshine and earthquakes every day” over harsh winters elsewhere, he said.

Friday’s quake was “the strongest one in like a year,” said Lyubenov, who works as a day trader and Realtor. He said he would have considered leaving his top-floor apartment if the shaking had gotten any more severe.

At Malibu Village Books, a bookstore near Malibu Lagoon State Beach, customers and staff hesitated as the floor shook.

“We definitely did feel it here," said Emma Carroll, a bookseller at the shop. "But we are all OK."

She said a few loose books fell off the shelves, but “nothing too bad."

Julie Ellerton lives in a rental apartment on the beach in Malibu. She was lying on an outside deck when the quake hit. The photojournalist, who worked for the Malibu Times until six months ago, said that as an L.A. native, she’s not afraid of earthquakes — but this one was particularly jarring.

“I felt it bigger than I’ve felt an earthquake in a long time,” she said. “I could feel it in my chest because I was sitting on the ground — basically on the deck — and it was like this all-encompassing rumble, like you’re on a wooden roller-coaster.”

Nearby foliage shook, she said, and she immediately knew it was more than an ocean wave crashing on the shore.

“My equilibrium was off because everything was moving as if I was on a boat,” she said.

The earthquake was about two miles north of a section of the Malibu Coast fault zone, which runs along Pacific Coast Highway through a significant stretch of Malibu.

It was not related to a magnitude 5.7 quake that hit the southern edge of Hawaii's Big Island a couple of hours earlier Friday.

But the quake was enough to temporarily close rides at Disneyland, park guests told The Times.

Nick Bergwitz of San Diego was walking around Mickey's Toontown with his wife, mother-in-law and 2-year-old son when the ground started moving. He didn’t feel any shaking, but he heard announcements that there had been an earthquake.

The streets and sidewalks that wind through the park quickly filled after employees began temporarily closing rides so they could be inspected, Bergwitz said. He said most guests appeared unfazed by the experience.

"More people are just going to be watching the parade," he said.

Disney officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more: Magnitude 5.7 earthquake hits Hawaii's Big Island; felt as far away as Honolulu

At Duke’s Malibu, a seafood restaurant on the coast, Sophia Bartkus said staff and customers heard a loud noise — they still aren’t sure what — and then some short-lived shaking.

“We definitely felt it, but as far as damages go, so far, everything’s fine,” the 24-year-old said. “It was really only a few seconds.”

She said most of the other staff were not fazed by the quake, but as a Wisconsin native new to California, it was an experience.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Bartkus said, adding that she was a little scared. But now, “things are back to normal.” The experience left her feeling a bit more like a true Golden State resident: “It’s like a California milestone for me,” she said, laughing.

A small tremor that was barely perceptible rumbled around 1:45 p.m. at In the Cut, a Black barbershop in Inglewood where Church Deon, 46, and two other barbers were cutting hair.

“It was like a slight rocking on a little rowboat,” he said. “So slight we was like, ‘Wait, was that an earthquake?’ ”

In Deon’s 13 years at the barbershop, he's experienced “plenty of quakes,” he said, most of which have been the same small tremors.

“Unless the chandeliers were shaking and things were moving, we would get concerned,” he said. “But we went right back to work after a couple seconds.”

Times staff writers Julia Turner, Richard Winton, Hannah Fry, Carlos Lozano and Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.