5.9 Earthquake Strikes in Virginia Near Washington D.C.


An earthquake located 87 miles southwest of Washington D.C. struck just before 2 pm EDT. The quake was initially measured at 5.8 but has been upgraded to 5.9 by the USGS. The quake was felt across the northeast, as far as NYC, Toronto, Indianapolis, and Boston.


The quake had a very shallow depth of 0.6 miles.

The Pentagon and Capitol Building in Washington were evacuated, as were courthouses in New York City. The earthquake sent Washington office workers scurrying into the streets.

The earthquake was the largest felt in Virginia since a 5.9 in 1897.

In related news, the largest earthquake in Colorado in more than a century struck on Monday night in Colorado, but nobody seemed to care.

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  1. Oh, yeah.. I'm in NYC and definitely felt it!

    Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 23, 2011 2:04:05 PM

  2. I'm in SW Virginia and definitely felt it - the first one I've ever experienced!

    Posted by: Zach | Aug 23, 2011 2:05:28 PM

  3. i just felt it in long island.... creepy

    Posted by: scared! | Aug 23, 2011 2:05:29 PM

  4. Check the global seismic monitor, it was 6.1: http://geofon.gfz-potsdam.de/geofon/seismon/globmon.html

    Posted by: Chris | Aug 23, 2011 2:06:28 PM

  5. A friend of mine here in Western Mass just felt it. Wild.

    Posted by: Michael in MA | Aug 23, 2011 2:06:44 PM

  6. Yuuuup, I am on the 15th floor of a building and suddenly our pots and pans started clapping together! Crazy...

    Posted by: Nate Gray | Aug 23, 2011 2:07:31 PM

  7. we felt it in Columbus, Ohio too!

    Posted by: Ben | Aug 23, 2011 2:08:54 PM

  8. I'm in Southeast VA and I not only felt it, I could see my monitor and desk moving.

    That's unsettling. I don't know how people live with it in CA.

    Posted by: sparks | Aug 23, 2011 2:14:09 PM

  9. Felt it in Detroit too.

    Posted by: M | Aug 23, 2011 2:14:39 PM

  10. I'm in DC - it was pretty scary - lots of stuff fell off the walls/countertops. Just grabbed the dog and ran for the door.

    Posted by: JamieMcG | Aug 23, 2011 2:16:36 PM

  11. I live in Manhattan and I felt it. My blinds and great room floor lamp were swaying and the walls and floors began to creak. I kept searching the news for a report and finally they've started coming in...

    Posted by: Angel in Manhattan | Aug 23, 2011 2:16:36 PM

  12. Felt it right here in Richmond, VA. No one can call their mommys!

    Posted by: Austin | Aug 23, 2011 2:17:11 PM

  13. Felt it at 40th & Park Avenue NYC. They haven't evacuated my building and Grand Central Station is steps away

    Posted by: MKC | Aug 23, 2011 2:17:38 PM

  14. There are no reports yet of damage, but the tremors were clearly felt in Downtown Columbus OH highrise office buildings.

    Posted by: Gus | Aug 23, 2011 2:17:57 PM

  15. It was felt in Toronto.

    Posted by: Protogenes | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:13 PM

  16. Felt it strong in west Baltimore here.
    I thought this bookshelf was gonna fall on me so I dived under the dining room table. XD

    Posted by: Joanie | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:25 PM

  17. Felt it in Chicago.

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:41 PM

  18. I'm in Toronto, on the top floor of a building, and felt a faint yet unnerving movement of the building.

    Posted by: Rafa | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:47 PM

  19. I thought I had drunk too much coffee or something, but I guess I was wrong. The Japanese people I work with started reminiscing about all the earthquakes they experienced in Japan and now I feel like a total rookie

    Posted by: Jesus | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:59 PM

  20. The West Coast sends out a big, "I hope you're all OK!!"

    Posted by: Chris Waddling | Aug 23, 2011 2:22:03 PM

  21. Well I think God is sending a message she's pissed off at the GOP for their sins of commission from the budget fiasco to opposition to marriage equality. The GOP better repent and mend their way or the Irene will finish them off this weekend.

    Posted by: Todd | Aug 23, 2011 2:25:16 PM

  22. SoCal native here. Hopefully everyone is okay from the temblor.

    At least you now have an appreciation for what they feel like. Too many East Coasters hole about California and their earthquakes. I've read some mock us for our paranoia over them. Others call it God's wrath for the "immoral lifestyle" we live - something that rarely gets said when tornadoes rip up the Midwest.

    But now they've experienced it. And they can see that even a relatively small 5.8 can do damage and put you on edge in a way you've never imagined.

    Just keep in mind that eest of the Rocky Mountains, the earth transmits seismic waves a lot farther due to its composition. It only takes on big earthquake to lay massive damage across hundreds of miles. In other words, Philly, Boston, NYC and others can be wrecked by an earthquake as far away as Missouri. So you need to be prepared. Strap and earthquake proof your house, even if you think "it'll never happen here."
    Be safe, brothers and sisters. And stay away from brick facades.

    Posted by: TommyOc | Aug 23, 2011 2:29:14 PM

  23. In NoVa, and the room I was in was rumbling hard. I thought the A/C unit was going crazy, so I was like better get outta here. I made it to the door in time for the REAL shaking to start...second Earthquake I've been in that was centered near Richmond, the last one was a 4.1 though.

    Posted by: Matt | Aug 23, 2011 2:30:27 PM

  24. Didn't feel a damn thing here in Chicago.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Aug 23, 2011 2:31:06 PM

  25. welcome to my world here in Palm Springs. scary, isn't it?

    Posted by: deedrdo | Aug 23, 2011 2:34:14 PM

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