Earthquake in San Francisco

I haven’t used an alarm since my kid was born. No need. She’s quite an effective alarm clock all by herself.

But she slept through a little earthquake we felt here in San Francisco around 5:30 in the morning — Earthquake rattles towns south of San Francisco. It woke me up, though. I was getting up shortly anyway, so I must have been sleeping lightly at that point. I heard the walls squeaking first, and then the room started moving back and forth for about six seconds. Pretty typical. I’ve gotten used to this since moving to the Bay Area. But this time I was concerned because I have a large bookcase that isn’t that stable. In fact, recently I bolted it to the wall in six places because it was leaning due to the weight of the books and the uneven floor. Now, the wall itself isn’t that strong — I doubt it’s load bearing — but at least the bookcase can’t swing freely in minor quakes. But maybe in a bigger quake, the weight of the bookcase would take the entire wall down. Maybe I should just move to a safer place. I wonder … I’m going to Japan …


2 thoughts on “Earthquake in San Francisco

  1. Hey, thanks, Mike, and thanks for coming by. And thanks for the engineering evaluation, too 🙂 I think I’m ok in minor quakes. I just didn’t want that bookcase to start moving and get enough momentum to dump over. It’s solidly bolted to the studs (I made sure of that). And it’s good to know that the bookcase will probably not be a factor in a bigger quake — which will bring bigger problems as you say. I’m not at all happy with the building, to be honest. It’s over 40 years old, and I would not stay in it long term if I were going to stay in SF. When we move to Japan, we are going to try to get into a newer building. Of course, I could choose a non-quake region of the world, too. 🙂


  2. Hi Jim,
    I always enjoy reading your blog. OpenSolaris is my interest/hobby and I aman engineer, but not a software engineer. So long as that wall of yoursis standard 2×4 stud construction, a book shelf, even a large one fully loaded
    isn’t capable of bringing it down. If there was an earthquake large enough to cause a catastorphic structural failure and bring the wall down the bookshelf would be the least
    of your worries. “Load bearing wall” refers to a wall supporting part of the structure, normally bearing the weight of a second story or roof. I would be more concerned with
    the attachments to the wall. Six bolts is more than sufficent so long as those bolts (lag bolts I presume) are into the studs a couple inches not just the drywall/paneling and threw a strong component of the bookshelf. Its hard to say without seeing it, but it sounds pretty safe.


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