Speed Reads

Nature's Nightmares

California's Napa Valley earthquake losses could exceed $1 billion

Early Sunday, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area, with its epicenter in Napa Valley, just north of Vallejo. The temblor destroyed homes, broke open gas lines and water mains, cracked open swimming pools, and sent at least 120 people to the hospital; there are no reported fatalities, though at least three people are listed in critical condition. At least 10,000 people had no power as of Sunday night. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a state of emergency.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the damage from the quake could be in the $1 billion range. At least some of those losses will be from wineries and wine collections — the earthquake sent bottles and casks shattering to the floor — though Reuters reports that only wineries and warehouses close to the city of Napa appear to have taken heavy losses.

USGS geophysicist Ross S. Stein says that this isn't Napa Valley's first earthquake, though it's the strongest since the area become renowned for its wines in the 1970s. "We owe wine country in part to earthquakes," Stein told The New York Times. "We all want to enjoy the fruits of the quakes, so we all have to prepare for the downside, too."