Earthquake in Virginia

And I felt it here in Ohio, although at the time I just thought it might be a little bit of vertigo brought on by my recent lack of sleep. Very odd. Also and clearly, everything fine on this end.

Here’s the latest. Looks like it was a 5.9. That’ll wake you up if you’re near it.

65 Comments on “Earthquake in Virginia”

  1. Quit stealing our natural disasters! Everyone knows that quakes are a west coast thing.

  2. As you know, being from the land of earthquakes, that’s a knock-the-precariously-shelved-item-from-the-shelf kind of shaker. Unnerving, but not to bad.

  3. We felt it in Indianapolis, IN. Everything noticably shook in a second floor building.

  4. I felt it here in MI. I was trying to figure out why I’d be getting a vertigo attack, as I’d not gone to Renovation, and then I noticed that the desk was rolling, although none of the minifigs fell over….

  5. Felt 30 seconds of rumbling and building-shaking here in North Carolina. Scary and exciting.

  6. I’m just a bit south of Virginia, just a mile across the state line. We felt it, the house shaking, things falling off the shelf, but not much else.. It’s the first time in memory I can remember an earthquake. And my memory goes back waay to long.

  7. Well, our building here in Arlington actually shook for a few seconds! Evacuating the place was far more traumatic (thousands of people tramping down the stairs in orderly fashion). No after shocks and we’re all back at our desks just 30 minutes later. Move along, nothing to see here.

  8. Yup, I’m in a NYC skyscraper on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street. We were rocking back and forth, which is pretty unnerving when you’re on the 40th floor.

  9. I wasn’t asleep, but it definitely woke me up. I watched the bookshelves sway, hoping none of the breakable stuff fell off.

  10. Yeah, I felt it right when it happened. Took me a minute to realize what was going on. Once I realized, I remembered you’re supposed to brace yourself in a doorway when that happens (never thought I’d ever have to use that bit of knowledge). Ended up knocking a few things off the shelves and breaking a potted plant, but nothing major, so that’s good.

  11. felt it here in Pittsburgh PA..couldn’t figure out why my chair was rocking..till my
    son in Chapel Hill NC called, and said he just had an earthquake.

  12. Here in the District, knpcked a pciture off the wall, and the office building I’m in groaned rather alarmingly. Crescendoed pretty quickly, but then lingered for quite some time– probably about a full minute.

  13. I was only on the third floor of my nyc apartment building, but it started rolling from side to side. I definitely lunged for the doorway while my cat yowled.

  14. This morning, I took some heavy things off of the top of the bookshelves. That was fortuitous. Though around here in Philly it wasn’t really severe, who knows whether that was just enough less precarious…

  15. @rickg #1
    Don’t worry, you’ve still got the Cascadia quake in reserve, when that one lets rip no one on the planet will be looking anywhere else.

  16. After two tours in California, I tried to stay at my desk in Crystal City (Arlington, VA), but the screams of terror from the rest of the office interrupted my concentration. So we all evacuated to the four winds waiting for somebody to figure out what the disaster policy for earthquakes required. An hour later, they decided to send us home, which means traffic is going to be Not Fun.

  17. We felt it here in Raleigh. At first it felt like a large truck rumbling by, then perhaps someone on the roof working with machinery. By the time we figured out it was an earthquake it was pretty much over. It’s the second VA quake I’ve felt here in the past 10 years.

  18. @ K..W. Ramsey, #25:

    This one was nowhere near as strong around here as the one last summer, though. This was just a little shake – the door next to me only moved a few millimetres back and forth. Last year, though? That was a good shake. And an honest-to-god roar. Thrilling, it was.

  19. Barely detectable here in London, Ontario… a co-worker felt it but I didn’t, and there was no sway of office planters or anything to make the effect visible. Then again, I’m only on the 3rd floor… I suspect folks in higher buildings would’ve found it a bit more notable.

    — Steve

  20. I’m in Ashburn, VA where it was intense. I talked to my husband in DC and it sounded like it was worse there and considering the epicenter was supposed to be about 85 miles SW of DC that would make sense since I work 36 miles to the NW. He said things were falling off the shelves in DC. And the cats! Oh, the cats were freaked out.

  21. I work in right by the airport in Dulles, VA. It was fairly strong here – stronger than any of the ones I felt in recent years when I lived in southern California at any rate. The duration was really short though, maybe only a few seconds at high amplitude. I don’t think the total energy was very high since it was so short-lived.

  22. I live in a small town in the upper part of South Carolina. Even if it was felt here, no one would have paid attention since there is a rock quarry only a mile away that does a whole heap of Earth moving blasting. I feel left out.

  23. There was about 30 seconds of shaking and the lights flickered here in NW DC. Not so bad, but not something I’d want to experience on a regular basis.

  24. I’m in NoVA too, and we had some pictures knocked off the walls. But my dad lives about 8 miles from the epicenter and he’s got some house damage, and lots and lots of broken glass and dishes from things falling out of cupboards and closets. Haven’t been able to contact my mom who lives about 14 miles from epicenter–her 200 year old house quite possible could have collapsed, since it was rickety to begin with. But probably not…

  25. Columbus, Ohio reporting in. I thought it was the cat wrestling her catnip mouse in the closet on the other side of the wall, but she was sleeping in the hall and her wrestling doesn’t normally make my Buddy Christ and Silent Bob-as-Batman figurines wobble on the bookshelf. I thought, “Be weird if that was an earthquake.” I AM THE GEOLOGY WHISPERER!

  26. I am in Stafford Virginia. The floor rolled under us. There was a sound coming from under the ground like nothing I have ever heard before. It lasted what seemed like a while but I do not know. We had some things fall and the hot water heater moved a bit but other than that we are fine. It was very scary. I have never experienced anything like that. At first I did not know what it was.

  27. Rhode Island; felt like “gentle swaying”. A bit dizzying, noticeable but not dismaying.

  28. Well, glad you’re OK. But a 5.9 is nothing where I’m from (Oregon by way of California).

  29. Felt it solid here in western MA. Best wishes for those closer, and/or who have loved ones there.

    As a reminder to those from elsewhere who might dismiss it, a little reminder:

    (1) Details vary by state and locale, but building codes on the east coast aren’t generally set up with earthquakes so much in mind as they are on the west coast.

    (2) Due to geological differences, quakes can propagate farther in the east.

    (3) Epicenter was very close to a nuclear power plant. (See #1, though one hopes that nuclear power plants would be robust enough, even in the east.)

  30. I’m in Ashburn, Virginia, in Loudoun County. My first thought when it started was that there was a large truck outside my work building. Then I immediately jumped to think maybe it was some sort of explosion or a plane crashing near Dulles. Being from Louisiana, and completely unaware that Virginia had a fault line, it just didn’t occur to me that it could be an earthquake. Very surreal to feel the whole building shaking. When I got home (just three miles away), I found all the pictures on my walls were crooked.

  31. Felt it in Hoboken. Big office building near the waterfront was evacuated temporarily (presumably while they checked the gas lines).

    The DC Devastation picture was funny until I found out about the damage to the National Cathedral. Now, not so much.

  32. It was very surreal here in PA. My office building kind of swayed. Of course rather than panic most of us were like “Coll Earthquake!” And immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to discuss with our friends.

  33. To echo Bearpaw, yeah, it’s pretty disconcerting to people who aren’t used to it. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and do recall the occasional minor quake, though no one else ever noticed, it seems. Maybe I was just sensitive. It’s funny to me people don’t consider there are fault lines elsewhere besides the U.S. West Coast.

    I lived in San Francisco for several years in my 20s, and depending on what part of town you were in, you’d either feel the shaking a lot or just a little. Depends on what’s under your feet (i.e. granite or sand). I got so used to them I’d barely make the effort to get in a doorway mostly because it’s over quickly. (The 1989 Loma Prieta quake lasted 15 seconds. This one in VA is coming in with reports of 10 seconds’ duration.) It’s the buildings that keep moving longer than the ground. ;-)

  34. Ah for the good old days, when such natural occurrences were commonly taken as a sign from a wrathful deity? Then again, for the beltway crowd to embrace repentance and fasting, could be a sign in itself….

  35. I was on the 5th floor of my federal office building in DC. Considering the fact that the only redeeming thing about our building is that it’s built to be bombproof, it shook a shocking amount. I was in the hallway, and saw the walls pretty much wave. At first, I thought it was construction going on in the floor above and then didn’t know what on earth it was. I almost went to the meeting I was planning on going to, and then came to my senses when I saw everyone running down the stairs. We ended up sitting outside for about an hour, then were allowed back in the building to get our stuff to go home.

  36. Ha! Just found out the epicenter of the quake was in Eric Cantor’s district! Since he has argued for defunding the USGS and letting states pay for their own disasters, this seems at least poetic justice.

  37. I live in Chester, VA and was browsing the web when it all happened. At first I thought it was an improperly loaded washing machine, but then I realized I was the only one home and I wasn’t washing anything. It kept on going for a few seconds. It stopped as I walked out into the living room and into the kitchen. My presence brought the dog out of his bed yawning, apparently I’m more disturbing to his sleep than an earthquake.

  38. I live/work in Herndon, VA, and we felt it here. I actually figured it out pretty quick and was more amused than concerned, once it stopped. I suspect most of the damage will be psychological. So far, no reports of deaths or even serious injuries, hopefully that will remain so.

  39. Didn’t feel it here in Silicon Valley, but my cats did act weird. (Mostly that’s because they’re cats, and also we just got back from a week trip to Reno for Worldcon.) Mom didn’t feel it in Delaware, but her neighbors did. TNH felt it in New York City, but PNH was in the middle of the building and didn’t.

  40. West Coasters may laugh at those of us on the East Coast, but the geologists are saying quakes differ based on the quake’s position in relation to the Rockies. The sediments along the east coast can apparently make quakes feel stronger because they propagate and amplify waves. The USGS says that East Coast quakes of 5.5 can be felt 300 miles from the epicenter and more than 10 times the area than those West of the Rockies.

    Next, a three foot blizzard will hit LA.

  41. I had just joined a speaker-phone conference call with someone in Baltimore, only a few seconds before it hit. That was some serious window-rattling going on; apparently their office is up on the fifth floor. “We’re having an earthquake. It’s … pretty interesting” were his words, I think. With my California reflexes, I was looking at the USGS site before the quake even got auto-reported. And then I hit refresh, and the large red square was rather a lot larger (indicating strength of earthquake) than I was expecting it to be.

    So I got to pay back my mother-in-law for all the times she’s called us about an earthquake in LA, asking us if we’re okay. (We’re up in SF. If LA fell into the ocean, we wouldn’t feel it.) She’s down in the southwest end of Virginia, hundreds of miles from Richmond — and was glad I called, because she was having a disagreement with her coworker about whether there’d been an earthquake, and was pleased to hear that she was right.

  42. CrypticMirror @23: This. Whenever I start to miss Portland, I remind myself that in d100 years it’s going to be swallowed by the planet.

    Folks sneering about East Coasters’ reaction have clearly never been around West Coast natives when a tornado or serious thunderstorm or a blizzard strikes – things that make Midwesterners shrug. It’s all what you’re used to and what your location is prepared for.

  43. Brenta @ 53: Oh, it wouldn’t need to be 3 feet of snow. 6 inches of snow would shut down either LA or San Diego (or both!) for days…

  44. Working in DC it still only took me about three seconds to figure out that it was an earthquake, by the time twenty seconds had gone by I was wondering if maybe I should be running for the door. Then the shaking ceased and there was much nervous laughter, before we finally got the word to evacuate. That the Washington Momnument is closed to deal with quake damage is probably your symbolic result of the event

  45. Oh joy, looks like shaken east coast will next be stirred by a hurricane.

    If Irene hits DC, I want to see Boehner making Al-Gore-Is-Fat jokes on the National Mall while desperately trying not to be swept away by hurricane force winds.

  46. when she asked if the earth moved for me too, I thought it a little odd, given I was at the grill and she was in the kitchen.

  47. Not sure if it is the same one, but we felt a little shake all the way up here in Ontario. Or at least my wife did, and I thought she was just too tired until the news decided to take her side. Dang news always proving me a fool.

  48. I work right by Dulles Airport (about 20 miles west of DC). The building shook a little.

    The entire US government closing down is a joke. Government people are the only ones who get a day off for something as minor as that earthquake. We just checked CNN on the TV in the office and went back to work. It was nothing. If you are a government contractor, it sucked, since when they close the government you don’t get paid.

  49. Federal government workers didn’t get the whole day off. By the time we were allowed back inside, we had about an hour and a half left of work, which isn’t that much. However, a couple buildings, including the USDA, were shut down today and I don’t know why specifically. If we were set up better to work from home, we could actually be much more productive in circumstances like this.

  50. I lived in San Francisco for six months, and never felt an earthquake (they probably happened, but I didn’t notice them).

    The only one I ever felt was in Charlottesville, Virginia about six years ago. It felt as though a huge truck was driving past, for about five seconds.

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