August 23, 2011: 5.9 magnitude earthquake hits Virginia, Washington, DC area
On August 23, 2011, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that a 5.9 magnitude on the Richter scale earthquake (later downgraded to 5.8) in Central Virginia took place at 1:51 PM EDT. The earthquake was felt in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area for about 30 seconds, rattling windows and jostling dishes.
Reports of earthquake came from places as far north as New York City, but also from Martha’s Vineyards where President Barack Obama and his family is vacationing. The shaking was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Obama was just starting a round, according to the Associated Press.
Reports are coming also from the South of the East coast that the earthquake was felt in North Carolina and as far south as Charleston, South Carolina.
Witnesses report that monuments in Washington, DC and major federal and private office buildings have been evacuated. All flights and trains were put on hold.
So far no serious damages have been reported. Witnesses said at least one spire broke off the Washington National Cathedral, but there were no reports of injuries.
Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in the same county as the epicenter have been shut down.
The earthquake was 0.5 miles deep and it was centered in Mineral, Louisa County of the State of Virginia (north-west of Richmond, VA), which is 93 miles from Washington, DC.
Aftershocks, generally of a smaller magnitude than the initial earthquake, have not been reported immediately after the first quake. Only at about 3:30PM one aftershock of 3.8 magnitude was registered.
This is the second earthquake of this high magnitude recorded in Virginia, the previous one has been also of 5.9 magnitude in 1897.
In less than a day, another earthquake has been registered in the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey says the strongest earthquake in nearly 40 years rattled the southwestern U.S. state of Colorado on Monday night, Aug. 22. The 5.3 magnitude quake struck an area in the southern part of Colorado, which was the strongest of at least eight earthquakes that occurred within a few miles of one another beginning Monday morning. The USGS says a 5.7 earthquake struck northwestern Colorado in 1973.