Whoa! Costa Rica just had a strong and extremely rough earthquake on Friday the 13th at 4:47pm. The epicenter of the 6.0 quake was 65km deep and 6km north of Santiago de Puriscal, which is not far from my house, where I was when the shaking started.

The shaking was completely different from the others – the first few Costa Rica earthquakes I have experienced have been slow, long, and almost soothing like floating in a gentle wave pool. This was not.

This earthquake started abruptly and shook sharply with no sign of slowing or stopping.

It only shook for about 30 seconds, but those 30 seconds stretched into very long minutes in my mind as I wondered if my house was going to fall down or if the shaking was ever going to stop.

Towards the end of the quake, I could hear people running into the streets and screaming. I rode the quake out on top of my bed, which is my plan if I am upstairs when an earthquake strikes.

The sudden onset and violent shaking of this Friday the 13th quake brought back memories of a similar quake 20 years ago, with the same epicenter, and struck fear into the hearts of Ticos who brave through several earthquakes a year. Everyone was outside after the quake, anxiously anticipating aftershocks and afraid to go back inside for fear of unsafe structures.

earthquake costa rica

Seismic Hazard Map. Image from USGS: neic.usgs.gov

So far there are no major damages reported, but there are landslides along some of the major highways: 27 and 32, as well as cracks in the roads. Cell phone service is spotty at best, and internet and electricity is out in some places. Luckily I have internet and electricity here in Alajuela near the airport.

I’m watching the news on TV and the 911 response center is begging people to stop calling for non-emergencies so they can respond to real emergencies from the quake. The rain has just stopped and I can now hear sirens from all types of emergency vehicles in the background, over the reports on Canal 7. We’ll have to wait for the following days to reveal the extent of damage, hopefully no one was harmed.