Watching excitedly for the clock to strike 10:15 a.m., fourth-graders at Kellogg School in Goleta shimmied under their desks Thursday morning as part of the Great California ShakeOut, an event organizers said had more than 10 million participants.

Students were under their desks for only a few minutes, but the hope was that the drill would be fresh in their minds in the event of an earthquake.

After several minutes, students were directed toward the playground in single-file lines, all under the watchful eye of Principal Nancy Knight. In the 11 years she has been principal, there haven’t been any major earthquake events, but the school at 475 Cambridge Drive still runs the drill every year with its 375 students and teachers.

On a statewide level, Thursday’s drill was the largest preparedness event in U.S. history, and was an effort to help California residents get ready for the “big one,” which could be closer than many people think.

In fact, California has a 99.7 percent chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or large earthquake during the next 30 years, according to a forecast released by the 2007 Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities.

The forecast also reports that the likelihood of a quake of magnitude 7.5 or greater in the next 30 years is 46 percent, and is twice as likely to occur in the southern half of California than the northern part.

Santa Barbara’s last large earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.8, occurred June 29, 1925, and left 13 people dead with $8 million in property damage. Click here for a list of large earthquakes throughout California history.

Thursday’s drill lasted only a couple of minutes, the length of strong ground motions from a major earthquake. Schools, individuals, families, community groups, businesses and schools were all part of the drill.

Participants went through the three main motions that everyone involved in any type of earthquake should follow: Drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a desk or sturdy table, and hold on until the shaking stops.

For more information on earthquake preparedness, click here to visit the Great California ShakeOut Web site.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at

Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.