5.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Northern Virginia

Quake felt as far north as New York City, polling precincts still open.

Update (Aug. 23, 8:27 p.m.): Woodbridge residents reported feeling an aftershock around 8 p.m. Tuesday night. USGS confirmed that 4.2 magnitude aftershock hit the area outside of Fredericksburg. Another aftershock in Virginia was confirmed around 2:45 p.m. today outside of the earthquake's epicenter. 

Update (Aug. 23, 4:05 p.m.): From Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue: All PWC school activities have been canceled for today. Initial safety checks of buildings have been conducted and no structural damage has been reported. The School Age Child Care (SACC) summer camps will dismiss on their normal schedule. School polling sites remain open for voting as scheduled.

Virginia Rail Express trains are running at 15 miles per hour until all tracks have been deemed in good condition. 

Update (Aug. 23, 3:37 p.m.): USGS has downgraded the earthquake to a 5.8 magnitude that was centered nine miles from Mineral, VA 

Original Post: 

Residents throughout the Northern Virginia region felt an earthquake of a 5.9 magnitude just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

A worker at Brixx pizza reported from nine friend that the quake was felt in Lake Ridge at a veterinarian's office while people at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge felt the quake as well. One resident said she was in her car when the quake hit and she felt her entire car shaking and saw the stoplights at the intersection wobbling. "I was looking around at these other cars like, are you crazy, can you feel that?" she said. 

Soon after the quake passed people streamed out of stores in Potomac Town Center, wondering if and earthquake had just happened. Officer Jonathan Perok from Prince William County police said that he was not aware of any major incidents that had occurred because of the quake. Joan Morris with Virginia Department of Transportation said in an email, "We have no reports of road or bridge damage right now but thought I’d give you a quick heads up that our bridge crews will be checking on bridges rest of today and tomorrow.  We will first check out bridges on 'rocker bearings.'  I am not sure how many of those bridges we have – I should know in an hour.  Those bridges are from the 60s, maybe early 70s and the roller bearing could tilt if damaged. Crews will check out bridges in Prince William County first as that area is closer to the epicenter."

Sentara Potomac Hospital reports that everything is operational and there is no structural damage and no injuries. 

An employee at Wegmans said that she was checking out for her lunch break when she was in a room all by herself. Things started falling off of shelves but she was not hurt. 

During the quake plate glass window of shops undulated in their frames while items skittered across tabletops. No car alarms went off, but people in Fredericksburg are reporting that it was much stronger down south. Reports are also coming in that the quake originated outside of Richmond or Charlottesville.  

On Twitter, people were reporting the quake was felt from Richmond to New York City.

The U.S. Geological Survey shows on its United States map that a quake hit Virginia. There is no confirmation as of yet as to how big the quake was. Phone lines also appear to be down at the moment. 

Governor Bob McDonnell reminded Virginians, "In the wake of the earthquake, I would like to encourage all Virginians to check on neighbors and loved ones to ensure that everyone is safe and to continue cooperating with law enforcement and emergency responders working in your neighborhood. All resources of the Commonwealth have been put on alert to assist in any way necessary as we move forward."

Garrett Johnson August 23, 2011 at 06:50 PM
At first I thought my roommate was stomping around in my room, but then it kept on shaking!
tanya broadbent August 23, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Please go to earthquake.usgs.gov and report on the "Did you feel it?" page. They need data also if you did NOT feel it and you were in the area. Thanks
Wendy Boone August 23, 2011 at 08:53 PM
OMG! It felt like a huge wind storm shaking the house.....like the feeling of being in a small car being passed by a big truck on the highway and you're getting blown aside. I was upstairs at home with my little granddaughter and heard things falling in the house. Thankfully nothing was damaged and the shaking didn't last long. I never would have thought this could happen around here, but I suppose earthquakes can happen anywhere. It sure is a wake-up call for emergency preparedness. Being unable to reach family was the worst part when cell phones didn't work. I'm absolutely counting my blessings right now.
Lauren Jost August 23, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Good point, Tanya.
brittany August 24, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Yeah I work at a veterinarians office in lake ridge n it was crazy we all thought it was the washing machine shaking at first
Lauren Jost August 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Brittany, wow! We thought the same thing, until it didn't stop. Were the animals freaked out?
Lauren Jost August 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Glad to hear you are safe, Wendy. It is a reminder that we should be prepared for emergencies. With a big storm heading our way this weekend, it's sort of a warning. We posted 'what to do after a quake' with tips: http://woodbridge-va.patch.com/articles/what-to-do-after-an-earthquake-2
Erick Blackwelder August 25, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Don't think me to be glum or paranoid, but my initial reaction to the house moving back and forth was "Oh my gosh, terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in DC!" But the shaking kept going and going. I grew up in Hawaii where the volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii would occasionally trigger earthquakes. I flashed-back to my childhood and realized we were in the midst of an earthquake. So I dashed under a door frame.


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